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Two enter pleas in Happy Wok robbery

June 7, 2010

Two of three men charged with trying to kill a Wauwatosa police officer who was investigating a December armed robbery at the Happy Wok restaurant have pleaded guilty to lesser charges as a trial was set to begin.

Michael S. Dengsavang, 28, Paul M. Phonisay, 30, and Thongsavahn Rodthong, 27, were all charged with attempted homicide, party to a crime, in the shooting of Abby Pavlik, who was ambushed in her patrol car. Pavlik, who was wearing a protective vest, was shot once in the abdomen and survived.

The men also were charged with burglary. Rodthong and Dengsavang were charged with armed robbery as well.

The trial for all three men was set to begin Monday, but Rodthong instead pleaded guilty to the armed robbery and burglary charges. Phonisay also entered guilty pleas to robbery charges. Their sentencings were set for July 23.

Jury selection was under way Monday afternoon for a trial for Dengsavang, near whom police had recovered a handgun that fired the shots into Pavlik's patrol car.

Pavlik, a 3 1/2 -year veteran of the Wauwatosa Police Department, responded to an armed robbery call at the Happy Wok, 2332 N. 124th St., about 10:30 p.m. Dec. 13. Her investigation took her to a nearby apartment complex, where police say she was ambushed by the suspects.

According to the criminal complaint, the men had entered the Happy Wok as the owners, a married couple, were closing for the night. They robbed the owners, then went to their apartment where the couple's 8-year-old son was home alone. They entered with a key taken during the robbery and had ransacked the apartment when police began to arrive.

According to the complaint, Dengsavang was found in trees nearby. Police tracked Rodthong's footprints for about five miles to a bus stop, and video showed him boarding the bus at that location. Phonisay drove from the scene in an Audi.

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