Prosecutors say a man targeted women in hit-and-runs, so why isn’t he facing hate crime charges?

Mar 29, 2024, 6:57 PM | Updated: Mar 30, 2024, 3:40 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — At least six Salt Lake County women share a disturbing reality: prosecutors believe they were intentionally hit by a man in a white car while they were walking outside.

KSL is aware of at least two other eerily similar hit-and-run incidents involving women and a suspect in a white car, but those remain under investigation.

On Monday, Salt Lake County prosecutors filed several felony charges – including six counts of attempted murder – against 26-year-old Anh Duy Pham. The charges represent four hit-and-run incidents investigators have linked to Pham and involve a total of six victims.

“There is clear and convincing evidence that the defendant would constitute a substantial risk to the community as he has targeted females in crosswalks and walking along the roads,” prosecutors wrote in charging documents asking the courts to order that Pham be held in custody without bail. “The Defendant does not know the female victims and has been choosing females at random to hit.”

A video first obtained by KSL Newsradio shows what could be an additional case involving the same driver.

The footage, captured by a doorbell camera facing T Street in the Avenues, shows a woman walking along the side of the road near garbage cans. A white car is seen ramming into the cans and the woman despite her efforts to jump out of the way. The woman is flung in the air, landing on her back on a nearby lawn as the driver speeds away.

While the case has not officially been linked to Pham, the woman seen in the video, like the women Pham is charged with trying to kill, was simply existing in a public space.

“That chill and that fear and that concern is absolutely legitimate,” said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, of the impact the series of crimes could have on women in Utah.

Gill has been a vocal proponent of encouraging victims of hate crimes to come forward. In recent months, he even appeared alongside other community leaders in a public service announcement pushing for more awareness and accountability of hate crimes.

When the KSL Investigators asked Gill why his office has not filed hate crime charges despite alleging that Pham intentionally hit women, Gill said, “We file the charges that we can based on the admissible evidence that is available to us.”

Gill said the incidents they’ve charged Pham in and others are still under investigation, and the charges in the case could be amended in the future.

Salt Lake City police defend not arresting Ahn Pham after initial hit and run case

He said he always encourages anyone who believes they’ve been a victim of a hate crime to report to police, and his office is committed to prosecuting hate crimes when they have the necessary evidence.

“It’s important to understand these are allegations only at this stage,” he said. “There’s a presumption of innocence, but what we have witnessed as prosecutors gives us great concern.”

Under Utah’s hate crimes law, defendants can face enhanced penalties for intentionally victimizing someone based on age, ethnicity, sex, gender identity and other factors.

However, Gill flagged what he sees as a weakness in the statute. He said it enhances the punishment for lower-level charges but has no impact on the most serious charges like the first-degree felony attempted murder charges filed in the case against Pham.

Have you experienced something you think just isn’t right? The KSL Investigators want to help. Submit your tip at investigates@ksl.com or 385-707-6153 so we can get working for you.

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Prosecutors say a man targeted women in hit-and-runs, so why isn’t he facing hate crime charges?