|For Immediate Release
Case # 09ZF0050
March 7, 2012
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
FOUR MEMBERS OF VIETNAMESE CRIMINAL STREET GANG FACE TRIAL FOR 1995 COLD CASE EXECUTION-STYLE RETALIATORY MURDER
SANTA ANA – Four members of a Vietnamese criminal street gang faces trial tomorrow for the 1995 cold case execution-style murder of a fellow gang associate in retaliation for abandoning them while committing a home invasion robbery one day earlier. Anthony Paul Johnson, Jr., 35, Westminster, Giang Thuy Nguyen, 36, Fountain Valley, Tam Hung Nguyen, 36, Riverside, and Truc Ngoc Tran, 34, Santa Ana, are each charged with one felony count of murder and one felony count of conspiracy to commit murder with sentencing enhancement allegations for murder by lying in wait and committing a crime for the benefit of a criminal street gang. Johnson faces an additional sentencing enhancement for murder to avoid arrest. Giang Nguyen faces additional sentencing enhancements for murder to avoid arrest and crime-bail-crime, indicating that he was out of custody on bail for another criminal case at the time of the murder. Tam Nguyen faces an additional sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm.
If convicted, all four defendants face a sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole. Opening statements are expected to begin tomorrow, Thursday, March 8, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-43, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
On the morning of Feb. 24, 1995, Johnson, Giang Nguyen, and fellow gang member Viet Nguyen are accused of committing a masked home invasion robbery in Huntington Beach at the home of a high school classmate of Viet Nguyen. During the robbery, Viet Nguyen fled the scene and left his fellow gang members because he believed that the victim in the residence may have recognized him. This robbery was not prosecuted, as it remained unsolved for several years and the statute of limitations has run.
On the evening of Feb. 24, 1995, Johnson, Giang Nguyen, Tam Nguyen, and Tran are accused of meeting at a house in Midway City and conspiring to murder Viet Nguyen in retaliation for fleeing during the robbery that morning and to prevent him from implicating Johnson and Giang Nguyen in the robbery if he were to be identified by the victim and arrested.
Early in the morning on Feb. 25, 1995, Johnson and Giang Nguyen are accused of convincing Viet Nguyen to take Tam Nguyen with him in his van under the pretense of buying drugs. Giang Nguyen is accused of giving Tran the keys to another car, which Tran is accused of using to follow Viet Nguyen’s car without the victim’s knowledge.
While Viet Nguyen was driving, Tam Nguyen is accused of directing him to drive through various areas in Orange County under the pretense of looking for the home of a specific drug dealer associated with Tam Nguyen. Tam Nguyen, who was riding in the back seat, is accused of claiming to feel ill while Viet Nguyen was driving on the northbound California State Route 73 in Costa Mesa. When Viet Nguyen pulled the van over to the shoulder, Tam Nguyen is accused of pulling out a semi-automatic firearm and shooting the victim in the back of the head, executing him.