Gang members accused of killing one of their own

Four members of a Vietnamese street gang will be tried in court Thursday in connection with the 1995 cold case slaying of a fellow gang member in Costa Mesa, authorities said.

Anthony Paul Johnson Jr., 35, of Westminster, Giang Thuy Nguyen, 36, of Fountain Valley, Tam Hung Nguyen, 36, of Riverside, and Truc Ngoc Tran, 34, of Santa Ana, each face one felony count of murder and one felony count of conspiracy to commit murder for the shooting death of fellow gang member Viet Nguyen, who left during a home invasion robbery of a classmate's home in Huntington Beach for fear that he would be identified, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

Later in the evening, the members involved in the earlier robbery allegedly conspired to kill Viet Nguyen because he left the scene, and for fear that the resident may be able to identify Viet Nguyen, the district attorney's office said.

Early the next day, Johnson and Giang Nguyen allegedly persuaded Viet Nguyen to take Tam Nguyen to buy drugs, and the two drove around Orange County to different locations before Tam Nguyen told Viet Nguyen he was sick.

When Viet Nguyen pulled the car to the side of the road on the Corona del Mar (73) Freeway in Costa Mesa, Tam Nguyen allegedly shot his fellow gang member in the back of the head, in a killing described by prosecutors as "execution-style retaliatory murder."

The men allegedly told other gang members Viet Nguyen was killed by a Costa Mesa drug dealer and the case went cold until 2006 when Costa Mesa police and the district attorney's office began reinvestigating the case.

The four men face a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

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