Inmate Pleads Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity for Jail Killing

Thursday June 25, 2020

Below is a news release from the Ventura County District Attorney's Office.  It is important to note that Dao had been facing a murder charge that was changed to voluntary manslaughter.  Also, the trial in July is scheduled to be a "court trial" which means the judge is also, in effect, the jury.  The issue is not whether he did it, that was decided by his plea.  The issue will be his sanity under the law at the time of the killing.


VENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that an amended complaint was filed against Vu Cong Dao (37) of Palmdale, charging him with voluntary manslaughter for the October 25, 2018, killing of Michael Torres, of Oxnard.

Dao appeared in courtroom 27 of the Ventura County Superior Court on June 24, 2020, where he entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, thereby admitting he committed the charged act. The case will now move to a trial to determine Dao’s sanity at the time of the killing. 

On October 25, 2018, at the Ventura County Main Jail in the city of Ventura, Torres was found beaten and strangled to death in his cell. Torres’ cellmate, Dao, was later arrested for the killing. Dao was in custody at the time of the killing after being arrested and charged with committing a commercial burglary that took place on October 18, 2018, in Camarillo.

The trial is scheduled for July 8, 2020, at 8:30 a.m. in courtroom 27 of the Ventura County Superior Court. Dao remains in custody at the Ventura County jail, without bail.