UPDATE, JUNE 9, 6:45 P.M.: A Fountain Valley teen has been convicted of the gruesome murder of a 48-year-old woman whose arm and purse straps became entangled with a car that dragged her for almost a mile through the streets of Westminster last year.
Christopher Dai-Ichi Yu, 18, faces life without the possibility of parole at his Aug. 5 sentencing by Superior Court Judge Lance Jensen in Westminster.
A jury today found Yu guilty not only of special circumstances murder (because it was carried out during an attempted robbery) but criminal street-gang activity, street terrorism, attempted murder and use of a gun for shooting at the woman's boyfriend as he chased Yu in his car.
It all stemmed from a drug deal gone bad. Tuyet Thi Huynh agreed to meet Yu and 19-year-old Lynn Ai Quach of Garden Grove to buy drugs on March 27, 2010, at Russell Paris Park in Westminster. But police and prosecutors say it was a ruse to rob the woman.
When she approached the passenger side of the car, Yu grabbed her purse and yanked it into her car. Quach, who was in the driver's seat, is alleged to have hit the gas and sped off. After being dragged through the streets, Huynh eventually fell away, slamming hard into the pavement.
But that was not before Huynh's 36-year-old boyfriend, Truong Pham, chased after the car in his own vehicle. During the pursuit, Yu fired a gun out his window at Pham. The cars speeding by led caught the attention of a Westminster patrolman, who stopped Yu's car and arrested the couple.
Quach is scheduled to stand trial on charges similar to Yu's on Oct. 31
ORIGINAL, UPDATED POST, APRIL 1, 2010, 8:53 A.M.: Tuyet Thi Huynh was standing next to a car at Russell Paris Park, talking with the young couple inside late Saturday night. The Orange County District Attorney's Office (OCDA) claims Huynh, 38, of Garden Grove, had arranged to meet Christopher Dai-Ichi Yu, 18, of Fountain Valley, and Lynn Ai Quach, 19, of Garden Grove, to buy drugs.
Talk about a drug deal gone bad.
According to a statement released by the OCDA, Quach was in the driver's seat of a Honda sedan, Yu was in the passenger seat and Huynh's 36-year-old boyfriend, Truong Pham, was watching the 11:30 p.m. transaction from his car.
But there was no transaction, according to authorities, who say when Huynh approached the passenger side window holding cash, Yu grabbed the booty and Quach hit the gas.
Huynh's purse became tangled in the car, however.
She was dragged from the park at 8601 Palos Verde Avenue for about a a mile through several streets of Westminster, according to the OCDA statement.
Here is the 9-1-1 audio:
The original Westminster Police Department report stated that Hunyh was not freed until someone in the car shot her in the area of Palos Verdes Avenue and Fox Hills. The statement from prosecutors mentions no gunshot directed at the woman, only that she eventually fell and slammed into the pavement.
But the OCDA does mirror the police report in stating that Pham followed the Honda and was shot at by an occupant of the car. Prosecutors have identified Yu as the shooter.
An Orange County sheriff's deputy saw the cars speed boy and managed to stop the Honda.
Orange County Fire rescuers rushed Huynh to UCI Medical Center in grave condition. She died there of head trauma. The OCDA statement reiterates she did not suffer any gunshot wounds.
Yu and Quach have each been charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder during the commission of a robbery and for a criminal street gang purpose and one felony count of attempted murder with a sentencing enhancement for criminal street gang activity.
Yu is also charged with street terrorism and a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm.
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Quach was charged additionally with sentencing enhancement for the vicarious discharge of a firearm by a gang member.
Currently being held without bail, they each could get life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.
The full OCDA statement on the charges follows after the break . . .
March 30, 2010
GANG MEMBER AND ASSOCIATE CHARGED WITH MURDERING WOMAN BY DRAGGING HER WITH CAR AND ATTEMPTING TO MURDER HER BOYFRIEND BY SHOOTING AT HIM AS HE FOLLOWED BEHIND
WESTMINSTER - A member of an Asian criminal street gang and a female gang associate have been charged with murdering a woman by dragging her several blocks with her hanging outside their car and attempting to murder her boyfriend by shooting at him as he followed behind in his car. Christopher Dai-Ichi Yu, 18, Fountain Valley, and Lynn Ai Quach, 19, Garden Grove, are each charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder during the commission of a robbery and for a criminal street gang purpose and one felony count of attempted murder with a sentencing enhancement for criminal street gang activity. Yu is also charged with street terrorism and a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm. Quach faces an additional sentencing enhancement for the vicarious discharge of a firearm by a gang member.
If convicted, Yu and Quach face a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. The defendants are being held without bail and are expected to be arraigned today, Tuesday, March 30, 2010, at 1:30 p.m. at the West Justice Center in Westminster. The Department is to be determined.
On March 27, 2010, Yu and Quach are accused of arranging to meet 38-year-old Tuyet Thi Huynh with the intention of robbing her under the false pretense of selling her drugs. At approximately 11:30 p.m., the defendants are accused of meeting the victim in a parking lot at Russell Paris Park in Westminster. Huynh approached the defendants car, where Quach was in the driver's seat and Yu was in the front passenger's seat. Huynh's 36-year-old boyfriend, Truong Pham, waited for the victim in his car.
When the victim approached the passenger window of the defendants' car holding cash, Yu is accused of grabbing the cash from Huynh's hand. Huynh's purse became tangled on the car and Huynh's arm was tangled in the purse. Quach is accused of beginning to drive away and Huynh was dragged for almost a mile until she fell from the outside of the car and landed on the road. A witness stopped to help her and called 9-1-1.
The victim's boyfriend attempted to follow Yu and Quach in his car and called 9-1-1. Yu is accused of attempting to murder Pham by shooting at his car with a firearm as he followed behind the defendants. A passing Orange County Sheriff's Deputy observed the two speeding vehicles and performed a traffic stop of the defendants' car.
The deputy detained Yu and Quach, who were arrested shortly thereafter by responding officers from the Westminster Police Department (WPD). At the time of their arrest, Yu and Quach are accused of being in possession of a firearm and Huynh's purse inside their car.
Huynh was transported to the hospital and was later pronounced dead due to head trauma from being dragged and falling from the car. She did not sustain any gunshot injuries.
WPD investigated this case. Deputy District Attorney Daniel Feldman of the TARGET Unit is prosecuting this case.