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Dramatic O.C. Murder Case to Jury

Trial: Accused Newport Beach lawyer's defense is that the victim's husband is a mobster who ordered the killing.

October 03, 2002|MONTE MORIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

But McDonald's lawyer says that what really broke down in this case was the investigation into Pang's murder. Arguing that the investigation was conducted in an incompetent manner, Molfetta said that local investigators ignored a report compiled by the FBI and the Orange County and Los Angeles County sheriffs.

That report, according to court testimony, noted that Danny Pang was suspected of being a member of the United Bamboo Triad, an Asian crime group from Taiwan. Molfetta and co-defense counsel Michael Reed portrayed Danny Pang as a shady businessman and million-dollar gambler who abused his wife.

The defense also introduced evidence that Janie Pang had reported to police that her husband had broken her nose and made death threats.

"This was a hit," Molfetta said. "This is somebody who does this professionally."

Authorities reject the defense theories, saying they don't believe Danny Pang was connected to the mob or had anything to do with his wife's death.

Lawyers for the defense and the prosecution have been barred from discussing the case outside the courtroom. However, Danny Pang's lawyer defended his client against the accusations.

"This claim that Danny Pang was connected with organized crime is ridiculous," said attorney William Baker. "Maybe he was involved in some dot-com institutions that failed, but that doesn't make them illegal. They were just unsuccessful. I've never seen anything suspicious."

Baker said that the Pangs were happily married and that at the time of her death, Janie was packing for a trip to Hawaii to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary.

Baker said that he believes that neither McDonald nor Pang was involved in the killing. He instead believes it was the work of another man who was stalking Janie Pang. (Investigators acknowledge that Pang was being stalked, but say that individual was ruled out as the killer.)

"I haven't seen evidence pointing to anyone else but the stalker," Baker said.

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Times staff writer Mai Tran contributed to this report.

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