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Spurned Lover Is Guilty of Killing 2

Jury finds that Vincent Cheung fatally stabbed the two pianists in their Irvine condo in 1999.

July 23, 2003|Christine Hanley | Times Staff Writer

A Rosemead man was convicted Tuesday of murdering a piano teacher and an award-winning pianist in their Irvine condominium in 1999 in what police said was a lovers' triangle.

An Orange County jury deliberated four days before finding Vincent Choy Cheung guilty of killing Guy Thomas Whitney and his new lover, Lawrence Wong. Cheung faces life in prison without parole when he is sentenced Aug. 25 on two murder counts enhanced with the special circumstances of multiple murder and the use of a knife.

"The Irvine Police Department did an excellent job," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Matt Murphy. "We felt the evidence was strong, and the jury did the right thing."

The five-week trial focused on the relationship among the three and included testimony about bloody footprints and DNA evidence that prosecutors said linked Cheung to the killings.

"Our killer stepped in blood at the crime scene, so there's bloody footprints all around the house," Murphy said. "That was probably the most compelling evidence we had."

Whitney, 60, and Wong, 51, were killed July 27, 1999. Whitney was found at the bottom of the stairs with 36 stab wounds, including seven in his face. Wong was found upstairs in the master bedroom, stabbed 25 times.

Investigators also found drops of blood inside Cheung's Chevrolet Lumina that matched all three of the men's blood, Murphy said.

Irvine police quickly zeroed in on Cheung, who is in his early 30s, after learning about the deteriorating relationship from friends of the victims and others.

Whitney, who taught voice and music at an Irvine conservatory, had broken up with Cheung six months before the slayings. He struck up a romance with Wong, a pianist of international acclaim, who accompanied opera stars. Wong moved into Whitney's condo, which overlooked the Rancho San Joaquin Golf Course.

Cheung, a part-time actor and convicted thief who was facing deportation to Hong Kong, tried winning back Whitney with gifts, including 100 videotapes of Oscar-winning films, authorities said. He also began stalking the couple, they said.

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