Thanh Van Tran Convicted of Murdering Lunar New Year Partier Outside Little Saigon Restaurant

A man who fatally shot a Lunar New Year celebrator outside D Saigon restaurant in Garden Grove in 2009 was found guilty by a jury today of second-degree murder.

The jury also found true the sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death against Thanh Van Tran.

The 29-year-old Garden Grove resident could get 40 years to life in state prison at his July 29 sentencing in Santa Ana.

He's not the only one facing heat in the murder of 40-year-old Tommy Ngoc Ta. As detailed in the Orange County District Attorney's office statement below, co-defendant Loi Van Nguyen, 32, of Garden Grove, could get five years in the can if convicted for his role in the crime.

June 9, 2011


SANTA ANA - A man was convicted today of the shooting-murder of a partygoer leaving a Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration at a Garden Grove Restaurant. Thanh Van Tran, 29, Garden Grove, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of second degree murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death. He faces a maximum sentence of 40 years to life in state prison at his sentencing July 29, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-44, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Co-defendant Loi Van Nguyen, 32, Garden Grove, is charged with one felony count of accessory after the fact and faces a maximum sentence of five years in state prison if convicted. He is out of custody and is scheduled for a pre-trial trial setting conference June 15, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-30, Central Justice Center.

Late in the evening of Jan. 24, 2009, Tran attended a Vietnamese Lunar New Year party with co-defendant Nguyen at D Saigon, a restaurant in Garden Grove. Upon leaving the party, Nguyen is accused of engaging in an argument outside the restaurant with another man who had also been at the New Year's celebration. The man's brother-in-law, 40-year-old Tommy Ngoc Ta, witnessed the altercation and tried to push Nguyen off his relative.

Tran retrieved a firearm from a car, approached Ta, and fired three shots, hitting the victim in his left and right arm and once in the chest. Tran fled the scene with Nguyen and witnesses called 911.

Ta was transported to University of California, Irvine Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead a few hours later. The victim was a married father of three.

Garden Grove Police Department (GGPD) officers responded to the scene and investigated the case.  A day later, Nguyen is accused of contacting police to turn himself in. Upon further investigation by GGPD, Tran was linked to the crime and arrested Jan. 25, 2009.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Cameron Talley of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.

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