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2 Face Trial in Slaying of Little Saigon Fortuneteller

April 13, 2006|Sara Lin | Times Staff Writer

An Orange County Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday that two North Carolina residents must stand trial for murder in the slayings of a well-known fortuneteller and her daughter at their Little Saigon home.

Phillipe Zamora, 51, and Tanya Jaime Nelson, 41, both of Roanoke Rapids, N.C., are charged with the April 2005 killings of Ha Jade Smith, 52, and Anita Nhi Vo, 23. The bodies were discovered in the Bird Avenue home by police, who had been called to check on their well-being. Officers found the house ransacked, with white paint poured on the women's faces and hands. Police say the paint probably was meant to throw off investigators.

The victims had been stabbed to death, police said. Their killers fled with credit cards, identification, jewelry and cash.

After Judge Glenda Sanders issued her ruling after the two-day preliminary hearing, Smith's sister, Nguyet Phan-Ngo, said she felt relieved.

"It's just the beginning, but I know it's going in the right direction," said Phan-Ngo, who came from Vancouver, Canada, to the hearing. "Even if it won't bring back my family, I'm glad."

In addition to murder, Zamora and Nelson are accused of burglary and robbery. Nelson assumed the identities of the victims and used their credit cards to pay for family vacations, airline tickets and clothing, investigators said.

Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Margaret Roper said her office had not decided whether to seek the death penalty.

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