Insane or racist? Jury weighs prison vs. institution for man convicted in triple homicide

MILWAUKEE COUNTY -- There was a large presence from the Hmong community at a triple homicide trial in Milwaukee Wednesday, November 8th. Dan Popp killed three people, including a Hmong couple in March of 2016 at a West Allis apartment building. A jury will now determine whether he was insane at the time. The jury began deliberating Thursday morning.

Dan Popp trial

Many in the courtroom watched the proceedings with skepticism. Some from the Hmong community believe Popp was racist, not insane when the crime occurred.

Was he a delusional schizophrenic who believed God told him to get a gun on March 6th, 2016 -- or was he a racist, killing three minority neighbors in his West Allis apartment building. That's what a jury must decide.

A psychiatrist diagnosed him with mental illness.

Dan Popp

Deborah Collins

"Sometimes he was looking to the side, commenting to someone who wasn't there," Deborah Collins, psychiatrist said.

The prosecutor played phone conversations between Popp and his mother in the weeks after the triple shooting -- showing that Popp seemed coherent, concerned about finances.

"What about my friends? My friends owe me some money. Did they drop any money off for me?" Popp asked his mother.

"No. Nobody dropped any money off," she said.

"Because some people owe me some money," Popp said.

Jesus Manso-Perez

Popp shot three people in the head in March of 2016 -- Jesus Manso-Perez, Phia Vue and Vue's wife, Mai Vue.

Mai & Phia Vue

The Vue's teenage daughter took the witness stand Tuesday and described the moments her parents were fatally gunned down in their apartment.

Fifteen-year-old Isabel Vue told jurors the family was watching a movie when heard a gunshot in the hallway outside their apartment. She says the family ran to hide in a back bedroom and then heard the front door breaking down. Vue says Popp appeared with an assault rifle and took her father to the bathroom where he was shot. He later killed her mother.

Popp in September of 2017 pleaded no contest to three counts of first degree intentional homicide and one count of attempted first degree intentional homicide -- and was convicted of the crimes. He essentially pleaded guilty but not guilty due to mental disease or defect.

A jury will now decide whether he'll go to prison or a mental institution.

When it came to testifying on his own behalf, Popp turned down the opportunity.

Three shot and killed in home near 92nd and Beloit, one in custody

The trial began on Monday, November 6th, and it's expected to wrap up soon.

A spokesman for the Vue family said after the verdict, they'll speak out on several issues he said are being monitored by the Hmong community across the nation.

Earlier in this case, there was a push to have it charged as a hate crime -- but that did not happen.