Jury takes only 92 minutes to convict HuynhAround the City Thursday, June 30th, 2011
It only took a jury 92 minutes of deliberations June 24 to convict Philong Huynh of first-degree murder in the 2008 death of Dane Williams, 23, who was drugged and then sexually assaulted.
The quick verdict took everyone by surprise, except for the six man six woman jury which heard 4 weeks of testimony of how Huynh, a 40-year-old gay man had drugged five straight young men and later sodomized them while they were unconscious.
Huynh was also convicted of the special circumstance of murder during sodomy and oral copulation of an intoxicated person. He was also convicted of the same charges involving a 20-year-old sailor in 2009 who was able to give the first clue, Huynh’s cell phone number, to police.
Huynh will be sentenced Aug. 12 to life in prison without the possibility of parole by San Diego Superior Court Judge Robert O’Neill.
Jurors stayed around afterwards to hug or shake the hands of Dane Williams’ grieving parents, who said they were grateful and relieved the jury made the right decision.
“We’ve been waiting 3 1⁄2 years. You go day by day … for a resolution. We got that today,” said Jim Williams. “They did a remarkable job. This guy had gotten away with it for a long time.”
“This guy doesn’t deserve our thoughts. He deserved what he got today,” continued Jim Williams. “This is a person who did not have a conscience.”
His mother, Valen Williams, said their healing will start now. “We went through something that most people never in their lives even fathom,” she said.
“The speed with which the jury reached its verdict speaks to the strength of the evidence against (Huynh) and the solid trial preparation and presentation by our prosecution team Gretchen Means and Dave Hendren,” said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis afterwards.
Hendren told jurors in his closing argument that Huynh had confided in a witness who testified that Huynh disliked having sex with gay guys.
“They had to be straight. He liked to be their first, whether they knew it or not,” Hendren quoted the witness as saying regarding the drugging.
Hendren told jurors that Huynh “prefers being the top man … to satisfy his sexual appetite upon trusting, vulnerable victims.”
“This is not a referendum on homosexuality,” said Hendren to jurors. “You’re not being asked whether you approve or disapprove, that shouldn’t be talked about in the jury room.”
Huynh gave no reaction to the verdict and he did not testify.
The charges were filed under the felony murder rule in which a death that occurs during another crime is automatically first-degree murder, so a lesser verdict of second-degree murder or manslaughter was not an option for the jury.
Williams was found in an alley about 800 feet from Huynh’s City Heights apartment three days after he vanished from downtown in January 2008. He was surrounded by Huynh’s striped comforter that contained 17 hairs from his mother’s dog.
Huynh put a red knit cap on Williams’ head, and fibers from that matched a vehicle he rented to dispose of the body. Williams was in San Diego for a convention with Hurley International, a clothing company, where he worked.
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