MEDINA — Bawi Thang will serve 15 years in prison for the stabbing death of his roommate in their Brunswick apartment last year after a Monday hearing in Medina County Common Pleas Court.
Thang, 35, pleaded guilty on June 17 to voluntary manslaughter and kidnapping, both first-degree felonies, as part of a plea deal, court records said. The original murder charge was dropped.
The 15-year sentence was recommended by the state and was agreed upon by the defendant.
Both hearings were attended by a Hahka-Chin Burmese-to-English language interpreter as Twang does not speak English. Thang and his roommate, Tial Ceu, were from Myanmar, formerly Burma, and had legal status in the United States. The two previously lived in the Columbus area, police records said.
Brunswick police Lt. Robert Safran said Thursday that investigators never determined a motive behind the slaying between the two friends.
“We’re not sure what prompted the altercation,” said Safran. “Later, when interviewing neighbors, they indicated that the two men often argued and they could hear them arguing, so it wasn’t uncommon for the neighbors to hear yelling and signs of a verbal altercation. They did reside together so they were roommates. They were also co-workers; they were sushi chefs at Giant Eagle.”
The two worked at the grocery store as subcontractors for Sushic, which provides sushi chefs at Giant Eagle locations.
According to a police report detailing the March 25, 2018, incident, a call came into police reporting a possible stabbing at the apartment on Clearbook Drive.
When officers arrived, they found both Thang and Ceu on the floor with stab wounds.
There was a knife wound on the left side of the Ceu’s neck, the report said. He was pronounced dead at the apartment.
When officers found Thang, he was lying on the ground and was unresponsive and pale. He appeared to have stab wounds to his chest, Safran said. The Brunswick Fire Department took him to the Cleveland Clinic.
Once a detective arrived at the apartment, it was learned that after the stabbing, Thang tried to get help from a neighbor before coming back to his apartment, where police found him. Blood stains marked his path through the building, the report said.
It was also noted that the two shared a sparsely furnished apartment and used floor mats and blankets as sleeping areas. There was a TV in the apartment, very few clothes and only shoes at the front door.
The report said officers found a knife on the floor with blood stains on it and on the carpet around it.
In addition to the knife and blood, two cell phones and two wallets were found near the men when police arrived.
The report said neighbors heard Thang and Ceu arguing earlier in the day, but they could not understand what the argument was about as they were speaking a different language. In interviews with relatives and friends of both Thang and Ceu — often hampered by a language barrier — police only learned that Thang said the stabbing was in self-defense.
“He stabbed me then I stabbed him,” is what Hai Lian, the roommate’s pastor, said was told to him by Thang.