|For Immediate Release
Case # 09ZF0050
August 10, 2012
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
VIETNAMESE CRIMINAL STREET GANG MEMBER SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON WITHOUT PAROLE FOR 1995 COLD CASE EXECUTION-STYLE RETALIATORY MURDER
*Three co-defendants are awaiting sentencing in this case
SANTA ANA – A Vietnamese criminal street gang member was sentenced today to life in state prison without the possibility of parole 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., 36, Westminster, was found guilty by a jury April 10, 2012, of one felony count of murder and one felony count of conspiracy to commit murder with sentencing enhancement allegations for murder by lying in wait, committing a crime for the benefit of a criminal street gang, and murder to avoid arrest.
Co-defendants Giang Thuy Nguyen, 36, Fountain Valley, Tam Hung Nguyen, 36, Riverside, and Truc Ngoc Tran, 35, Santa Ana, were each found guilty by a jury April 10, 2012, of 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. The sentencing enhancements for murder to avoid arrest and crime-bail-crime against Giang Nguyen were found true. The sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm against Tam Nguyen was found true. The three co-defendants are scheduled to be sentenced to life in state prison without the possibility of parole Sept. 21, 2012, 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 committed 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 met at a house in Midway City and conspired 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 convinced Viet Nguyen to take Tam Nguyen with him in his van under the pretense of buying drugs. Giang Nguyen gave Tran the keys to another car, which Tran used to follow Viet Nguyen’s car without the victim’s knowledge.
While Viet Nguyen was driving, Tam Nguyen directed 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, claimed 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 pulled out a semi-automatic firearm and shot the victim in the back of the head, executing him.
Tran, who follow