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Trial Ordered for 3 in Slaying of 2 Youths at Graduation Party : San Marino: Witnesses testify that gang members came heavily armed, intending to battle rivals already there. Arraignment is set Nov. 2 in Superior Court.

October 20, 1994|VICKI TORRES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Heavy security marked a weeklong court hearing that ended with three Asian gang members ordered to stand trial in the shooting deaths of two high school students at a San Marino graduation party.

During the preliminary hearing in Pasadena Municipal Court, three young people who attended the party testified that gang members came to the party armed with an AK-47 assault rifle, a .380-caliber handgun and a baseball bat. They intended to battle "enemies"--rival gang members already at the party, the witnesses said.

Eight sheriff's deputies guarded the courtroom and used a metal detector to screen visitors. A court order prohibits the disclosure of the names of witnesses who testified.

The extra precautions were taken after 10 alleged gang members showed up en masse during earlier proceedings.

The suspects--Cuong Chan Phan, 18, of Monterey Park; Vi Quoc Chauc, also known as Peter Chau, 18, of Rosemead, and Don Sam Ha, 19, a Los Angeles County resident, were scheduled to appear Nov. 2 in Pasadena Superior Court for arraignment on murder charges.

The three are accused of being part of a gang that discovered rivals at the party and then left, organized at an El Monte gang house and returned in three cars to attack the home in the 600 block of Lombardy Place in San Marino.

The gang members confronted two partygoers at the entrance, chased them to the back and opened fire, police and witnesses said during the preliminary hearing. Slain were Dennis Buan, 18, of South Pasadena, and David Hang, 14, of San Marino. Seven other youths were wounded. It was not known whether the victims were intended targets or bystanders.

The killings prompted a wide-ranging investigation that culminated Aug. 9 in raids on several San Gabriel Valley homes and numerous arrests. In addition to the three in court Tuesday, three other youths face criminal charges stemming from the shooting.

Tam Thi Tran, 19, of Westminster, pleaded guilty earlier to accessory to murder, which carries a penalty of up to three years in state prison. No sentencing date has been set and Tran could still be charged with the murders, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Teri Schwartz, who is prosecuting all the cases.

Another suspect, Mia Quiocho, 18, of Rosemead, faces a preliminary hearing Nov. 15. Meanwhile, a 17-year-old, whose name has been withheld because he is a minor, faces a juvenile court hearing to determine if he should be tried as an adult.

Murder charges against a seventh person, Hau Tac San, also known as John Chan, 20, of South El Monte, were dropped after investigators determined that he was not at the party, Schwartz said.

Throughout the hearing, Phan and Chauc appeared solemn, but Ha twisted often in his chair, grinning at spectators in the courtroom.

One witness, an associate of the gang, testified that she brought a baseball bat to the party and smashed a car window because she "just wanted to have some fun." She also told prosecutor Schwartz that she is now afraid. During her two days of testimony, she kept her face turned downward and spoke in a monotone.

Defense attorneys tried to attack the credibility of the witnesses, some of whom face criminal charges themselves in connection with less serious troublemaking at the party.

"A lot of these people were all involved in a shark frenzy of (criminal) activity," said M. R. Ward, Chauc's attorney, after the hearing Tuesday. "Now, some have decided to look out for themselves and save their own hides."

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