Last month, Anthony Paul Johnson Jr. managed to snag one of our coveted Ugly Police Mugshot of the Week honors.
Today, he and three of his gang-banging pals were convicted of gunning down a teen colleague in 1995.
Johnson, 35, of Westminster; Giang Thuy Nguyen, 36, of Fountain Valley; Tam Hung Nguyen, 36, of Riverside; and Truc Ngoc Tran, 34, of Santa Ana, are now looking at possible life in state prison without parole at their June 8 sentencing in Santa Ana.
A jury found each guilty 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.
There were also sentencing enhancements found true for Johnson (murder to avoid arrest), Tam Nguyen (personal discharge of a firearm) and Giang Nguyen (murder to avoid arrest
and crime-bail-crime, or committing a crime while out on bail in an unrelated case).
Johnson, Giang Nguyen and Viet Nguyen, 18, of Huntington Beach, wore masks the
morning of Feb. 24, 1995, when they pulled a home invasion
robbery at the home of one of Viet's Ocean
View High School classmates. Thinking he'd been recognized, Viet split, leaving the other two gang members to fend for themselves.
That same evening, Johnson, Giang
Nguyen, Tam Nguyen and
Tran met at a house in Midway City and conspired to
murder Viet Nguyen in retaliation for abandoning them and to prevent him
from implicating the others. The next morning,
Johnson and Giang Nguyen convinced Viet to drive
Tam Nguyen's van
for a drug run while the owner sat in the back. During the ride, Tam
Nguyen faked an illness to get Viet to pull over
onto the shoulder of the 73 freeway in Costa Mesa, which is where Tam Nguyen pulled out a semi-automatic and shot Viet
execution-style in the back of the head.
The murder had been a cold case until the Costa Mesa Police Department re-opened the investigation in 2006.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.