Saturday, August 13 2011 1:28 AM EDT2011-08-13 05:28:41 GMT
A medical student who plied an already intoxicated Orange County man with drugs, then killed him during a sexual assault, was sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A state appeals court Thursday upheld the murder conviction and life sentence for a medical student who plied an already-intoxicated Orange County man with drugs, then killed him during a sexual assault.
Attorneys for Philong Huynh asked the 4th District Court of Appeal to overturn the verdict and sentence on numerous grounds, including insufficient proof of death by a criminal agency and faulty jury instructions.
Huynh was convicted last year of murder in the Jan. 26, 2008, death of 23-year-old Dane Williams of Huntington Beach. Williams, who worked for Hurley International, was in San Diego for a trade show.
Jurors found that the murder happened while the defendant was engaged in the sodomy and oral copulation of an intoxicated victim.
Huynh, of City Heights, was also convicted of sodomy and oral copulation of an intoxicated person for a 2009 sexual assault on a 20-year-old Navy Corpsman who came forward more than a year after Williams' death.
Superior Court Judge Robert F. O'Neill sentenced Huynh to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Deputy District Attorney David Hendren said deputy medical examiners determined that Williams' probable cause of death was asphyxia. Because doctors couldn't determine how Valium got into the victim's system, they listed the manner of death as undetermined, Hendren said.
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. The prosecutor said the defendant acted like a "wolf in sheep's clothing" by giving Williams a depressant that rendered him unable to fight off a sexual assault.
Williams body was found three days later in an alley two blocks from the home Huynh shared with his mother.
The prosecutor said Williams, the Navy Corpsman and four other men who testified at trial were heterosexuals who fell victim to Huynh's con game between 2007 and 2009. Hendren 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.
In August 2009, evidence found on Williams' body was matched to DNA found on the Navy Corpsman, and Huynh was arrested the following month.
Defense attorney Terry Zimmerman said the defendant didn't kill Williams. 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 his body where it could be found.