WOMAN SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON WITHOUT PAROLE FOR SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES MURDER DURING ROBBERY BY DRIVING OVER MAN’S HEAD AFT

Case # 10CF2478

Date: June 5, 2015

WOMAN SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON WITHOUT PAROLE FOR SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES MURDER DURING ROBBERY BY DRIVING OVER MAN’S HEAD AFTER FOLLOWING HIM HOME FROM HAWAIIAN GARDENS CASINO

SANTA ANA – A woman was sentenced today to life in state prison without the possibility of parole for the special circumstances murder of a man by driving over his head after following him home from a Hawaiian Gardens Casino to rob him of $10,000 in gambling winnings. Barbara Ann Hamel, 51, Long Beach, was found guilty by a jury March 30, 2015, of one felony count of special circumstances murder for committing a murder during a robbery, two felony counts of second degree robbery, and one felony count of attempted second degree robbery.

Hamel previously pleaded guilty in this case on Dec. 13, 2013, and was expected to be sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison on Feb. 21, 2014. During the sentencing the court allowed Hamel to withdraw her guilty plea based on the defendant’s request to have evidence in this case further analyzed.

Co-defendant Tad Allen Carroll, 46, formerly of Buena Park, pleaded guilty on Dec. 13, 2013, to one felony count of first degree murder. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison.

Co-defendant Michael William Ross, 31, Long Beach, pleaded guilty Sept. 27, 2013, to one felony count each of second degree murder, robbery, and attempted robbery. He was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison.

Circumstances of the Case

In the early morning on Sept. 3, 2010, Ross entered the Casino and surveyed winning gamblers with the intention of robbing them after they left the Casino. Hamel waited with Carroll in a Pontiac Grand Prix outside the Casino with the intention of robbing the winning gamblers that Ross was watching. Ross closely watched 55-year-old Chi Bui who had been winning while gambling with his friend Kim Nguyen. At approximately 4:00 a.m., Bui went to the Casino’s cashier window, cashed in his chip winnings, and received over $10,000 in cash. Bui then left the Casino with Nguyen. Ross followed the victims out of the Casino and made a phone call to Carroll and Hamel.

Hamel drove with Carroll and followed Bui, who drove Nguyen to her Santa Ana home. Hamel blocked-in Bui’s car after he had stopped alongside the curb in front of Nguyen’s home. Carroll got out of the vehicle, approached the victims, and pointed a knife at them to steal their winnings. He knocked Bui to the ground and got back into the vehicle. Hamel then drove over Bui’s head, killing him instantly, and then fled the scene with Carroll. Nguyen called 911.

The Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) was able to link the three defendants to the crime with the assistance of the Hawaiian Gardens Casino, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department California Department of Corrections, Parole Fugitive Apprehension Team, and United States Marshals Fugitive Task Force. 

Carroll was arrested, Sept. 8, 2010, in Anaheim. Hamel was apprehended in Long Beach later that day. Ross was arrested Sept. 18, 2010.

SAPD investigated this case with assistance from the Hawaiian Gardens Casino.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.