SANTA ANA — In a trial that began here Wednesday, a Missouri man already serving a life sentence in his home state faces a possible death penalty in California if convicted of the 1989 rape-murder of a Fountain Valley woman.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Christopher J. Evans, in opening statements before an Orange County Superior Court jury, said that Timothy DePriest, 33, was responsible for the brutal Dec. 17, 1989, murder of Hong Thi Nguyen, 26, whose naked, battered body was dumped near a trash bin after she had been shot in the head.
Nguyen worked at a Garden Grove bridal shop as a seamstress.
DePriest's attorney, Lewis W. Clapp, told the jurors that the evidence wrongly points to his client's guilt, and suggested that another man was responsible for the killing.
DePriest, who was on parole from a California prison for a previous rape conviction at the time of the attack, admits using the dead woman's credit card, checkbook and car to travel to Missouri.