Jury reaches quick guilty verdict in Dane Williams murder trial - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Jury reaches quick guilty verdict in Dane Williams murder trial

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A San Diego medical student who plied an already intoxicated Orange County man with drugs, then killed him during a sexual assault, was convicted Friday of murder and other charges.

A jury took three hours to find Philong Huynh, 40, guilty of murder in the January 2008 death of 23-year-old Dane Williams of Huntington Beach, who was in San Diego for a trade show.

Jurors also found that the murder happened while the defendant was engaged in the sodomy and oral copulation of an intoxicated person.

Huynh was additionally convicted of sodomy and oral copulation of an intoxicated person for a June 2009 sexual assault on a 20-year-old Navy Corpsman who came forward more than a year after Williams' death.

The defendant faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced Aug. 12.

"Well, we've been waiting three and a half years for today," said Williams' father, Jim. "You go through this and just kind of living day by day, thinking things will come to an end and you'll get a resolution, and we got that today."

The father thanked San Diego prosecutors for bringing his son's killer to justice.

"You want to be a predator, you want to be a sex offender, you're going to have to answer to somebody, and they showed that today," the father said.

In his rebuttal closing argument, Deputy District Attorney David Hendren noted that the defense conceded that the victim died while with the defendant. He also disputed a defense contention that Huynh couldn't be convicted of murder because a deputy medical examiner found the cause of Williams' death to be undetermined.

The prosecutor said the deputy medical examiner -- and his boss who reviewed the case -- determined that Williams' probable cause of death was asphyxia. Because the doctor couldn't determine how diazepam -- or Valium -- got into the victim's system, he had to list the manner of death as undetermined, Hendren told the jury.

"Their opinions support what we're saying here," the prosecutor said.

Hendren urged the jury to send a message to the defendant that he "can't treat people like they're his own sex gratification tool."

In his initial closing argument on Thursday, Hendren said Williams had too much to drink on Jan. 26, 2008, making him vulnerable to a "predator" like Huynh.

Hendren said Huynh was in his third year of medical school, had studied pharmacology, knew a lot about drugs and had prescriptions for Benzodiazapam and Clonazepam, He said the defendant acted like a "wolf in sheep's clothing" by giving Williams diazepam -- a central nervous system depressant -- rendering the victim unable to fight off a sexual assault.

Williams' body was found three days later in an alley two blocks from the City Heights home that Huynh shared with his mother.

The prosecutor said Williams, the Navy Corpsman and four other men who testified at the trial were heterosexuals who fell victim to Huynh's con game between 2007 and 2009. He said Huynh would meet young, good-looking straight men, gain their trust by talking about women, then offer to buy them drinks and take them to strip clubs in Mexico.

Once he got the victims alone, Huynh would slip them a depressant to knock them out, making them "basically unconscious," he said.

Jeremiah R., the Navy Corpsman, said he felt disoriented for five days after being drugged and sexually assaulted by Huynh, the prosecutor said.

Jeremiah testified he met an Asian man named "Phillip" in the Gaslamp Quarter in June 2009 and went with him to explore the beaches of San Diego. The alleged victim said he drank a bottle of cognac and complained of a headache, and "Phillip" gave him some pills from a Tylenol bottle.

In August 2009, sperm found on Williams' body was matched to sperm found on the Navy Corpsman, and Huynh was arrested the following month.

Defense attorney Terry Zimmerman said there was no proof that Huynh victimized Williams through sodomy or oral copulation, adding that the defendant masturbated on the victim's shirt.

"Philong Huynh is not a killer," Zimmerman said in her closing argument, "and you can't be guilty of murder if you haven't killed someone."

She said there was evidence that Huynh and Williams were together the night the victim died, and that the defendant woke up next to the dead man and disposed of the body, placing it where it could be found.

"Disposing of a dead body is not the same as killing that person, and it's not the same as murder," Zimmerman said, noting that the men who testified against Huynh are still alive.

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