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Third Suspect to Be Tried in Slaying of Villa Park Man

February 04, 1988|JESS BRAVIN | Times Staff Writer

A third defendant has been ordered to stand trial in the slaying of a Villa Park man whose body was found floating in a Long Beach canal last November.

Municipal Judge James M. Brooks issued the order Tuesday after a two-day preliminary hearing for Peter Ha Nguyen, 34, Deputy Dist. Atty. Thomas J. Borris said.

The suspect is charged with the Nov. 30 murder of Quynh Duy Nguyen, 50. The defendant and victim are not related.

The action against Peter Ha Nguyen came more than a month after his sister, Xuan Kim Lai, 37, and her husband, Hoan Ngoc Lai, 47, were bound over for trial on virtually identical evidence, Borris said.

In that hearing, which ended Dec. 21, prosecutors contended that the Lais had lured Quynh Duy Nguyen to a Santa Ana motel room and killed him in retaliation for an affair with Xuan Kim Lai.

Several witnesses tied the couple to the scene of the crime, including an employee of a detective agency who was tailing Quynh Duy Nguyen the night he was killed.

The employee, Jesse K. Welch, was hired by the victim's family to follow him on what they thought would be his liaison with a woman.

Welch testified that he saw Hoan Ngoc Lai at the motel and that Peter Ha Nguyen was the gunman he saw enter the victim's room.

Peter Ha Nguyen was arrested with the Lais but was released for lack of evidence. Borris said Welch's identification of Peter Ha Nguyen at the December hearing provided the evidence needed to arrest him again.

Welch was the only prosecution witness to testify in Peter Ha Nguyen's hearing, Borris said.

The brother of Peter Ha Nguyen and Xuan Kim Lai, Traung Canh Nguyen, is a fourth suspect in the case, Borris said. Authorities said he may have fled to Texas.

The complicated case involves charges and countercharges of revenge and questionable business practices between the families of the accused and the victim, all of whom are Vietnamese immigrants.

Defense attorney Alan M. May has said the Lais were framed.

The body of Quynh Duy Nguyen was found late at night Nov. 30 by a teen-age gondolier in the canals of Long Beach's Naples district.

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