Two killers of a 55-year-old man who was followed home from Hawaiian Gardens Casino where he won $10,000 gambling pleaded guilty last week to the charges against them. Tad Allen Carroll, 45 and formerly of Buena Park, admitted to first degree murder, while Long Beach 50-year-old Barbara Ann Hamel copped to second degree murder.
The distinction is expected to fetch Carroll a sentence of 25 years to life in state prison compared to Hamel's 15 years to life, although we won't know for sure until a Feb. 21 hearing in Santa Ana. Fifteen to life is what Michael William Ross, 30, of Long Beach, received after pleading guilty Sept. 27 to second degree murder, robbery and attempted robbery, all felonies, in the case.
Chi Ngoc Bui won big the night of Sept. 2, 2010, at the casino next to the 605 freeway, but little did the Westminster resident know that he was being watched, later followed or that he'd take his last breaths early the next morning.
Seeing Bui had won 10 grand, Ross followed him out of the casino and called Carroll and Hamel. Bui then got into his 2002 Honda Civic with his longtime friend Kim Nguyen for the drive back to their respective homes, unaware that Carroll and Hamel were following them in a Pontiac Grand Prix.
After stopping in front of Nguyen's Santa Ana home, the Civic was boxed in by the Grand Prix. Carroll got out of the vehicle, approached the pair and pointed a knife at them to steal the winnings. He knocked Bui to the ground and got back into the Grand Prix, which Hamel then drove over Bui's head, killing him instantly. The robbing couple drove off as Nguyen called 9-1-1.
Santa Ana Police and Los Angeles County Sheriff's investigators worked the case that, with the assistance of the Hawaiian Gardens Casino, led to Carroll, Hamel and Ross being identified as the suspects that Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin will have ultimately put away.