California Man Killed in Thailand over Cab Fare Argument

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PIONEER—

Thailand. It’s a romantic, exotic destination for many, but for one California native it’s turned into a nightmare.

Troy Lee Pilkington recently called the Amador County town of Pioneer home.

Police in Bangkok say Pilkington was killed in their country Saturday night when he walked away from a cab ride, with the cabbie thinking he was rigging the meter.

There are surveillance images of the way investigators say cabbie Cherdchai Utmacha reacted to Pilkington, attacking the 51-year-old with a 16-inch machete he kept in his cab.

The cabbie was arrested a short time later. Police later released several photos of the reenactment they asked the 32-year-old driver to do of the struggle.

Pilkington was a senior official for Caterpillar Thailand and had been working in Bangkok for several years.

Company spokesmen say they’re praying for Pilkington’s family and friends.

Through a written statement Rusty Dunn also said, “His expertise in service operations and positive relationships with dealers and customers will be deeply missed … Caterpillar is doing all it can to assist Troy’s family in the aftermath of this senseless tragedy and will assist the Thai authorities in any way possible as their investigation continues.”

Utmacha is facing murder charges, but he is claiming self-defense in a killing that comes down to about $1.60 in U.S. currency.

He says that Pilkington threw a cup of coffee at him once they started to argue about the fare and that Pilkington lunged at him.

Those are all details Thai authorities will now have to sort out.

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