SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A City Heights man charged with murdering an Orange County resident trolled the Gaslamp Quarter, targeting heterosexual men, whom he would drug and sexually assault, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Opening statements were delivered in the trial of Philong Huynh, who is accused of sexually abusing and killing 23-year-old Dane Williams of Huntington Beach more than three years ago and sexually assaulting a 20-year-old man.
Huynh faces life in prison without parole if convicted.
Deputy District Attorney Gretchen Means told a jury that Huynh, now 40, would target straight, intoxicated young men and offer to pay for their trip to strip clubs in Tijuana.
Huynh would then drug his victims and sexually assault them, the prosecutor said.
His alleged modus operandi "gave the defendant full access to what he sexually desired," Means told the jury in her opening statement.
She said Williams was a hard-working, reliable employee who had landed his "dream job" at Costa Mesa-based Hurley, a skate and surfwear firm, when he was killed.
Friends said Williams was "girl crazy," the prosecutor said.
Means said Williams, who lived with his family in Huntington Beach, disappeared on Jan. 26, 2008, during a trade show in San Diego.
The victim, who had worked that night at a fashion show at the House of Blues, was last seen leaving the Hard Rock Cafe in the Gaslamp Quarter about 2 a.m.
Witnesses said Williams was intoxicated and stumbling when he left the Hard Rock, Means told the jury.
The victim's body was found three days later in an alley, about a block-and-a-half from Huynh's residence, which was seven miles from the Gaslamp, the prosecutor said.
Williams had DNA evidence on his body and on his shirt, and his watch, keys and underwear were missing, according to the prosecutor.
The victim's blood-alcohol level was between .17 and .21 percent and he had benzodiazepine in his system, a drug Huynh was familiar with, Means said.
Williams' cause of death was undetermined, according to the prosecutor.
The 20-year-old Navy corpsman who came forward in January 2009 said he met as Asian man who called himself "Phillip" in the Gaslamp Quarter and went with him to explore the beaches of San Diego, Means told the jury.
When the second alleged victim complained of a headache, "Phillip" gave him some pills from a Tylenol bottle, the prosecutor said.
The next day, the alleged victim woke up next to the defendant without his pocket knife or his underwear, Means said.
"He felt drugged," Means said.
The alleged victim said he didn't remember how he got back to Camp Pendleton, but he went to the emergency room and DNA evidence was found on his body, the prosecutor said.
In August 2009, DNA found on Williams' body was matched to DNA found on the other victim, and Huynh was arrested the following month, Means said.
DNA evidence found in the second alleged victim's case tied Huynh to Williams's murder, according to the prosecution.
Prescription receipts from Tijuana were found in the defendant's car, along with empty bottles of Viagra and a pill crusher, Means told the jury.
According to Department of Justice records, Huynh filled 10 prescriptions of benzodiazepine between April 2007 and February 2008, the prosecutor said.
Huynh worked at a Point Loma company that produced gay porn and told people there he liked to have sex with young straight men and men from the military, Means said.
She said that between 2007 and 2009, several young men came forward, saying the defendant posed as a straight man and drove them to the border, promising girls in hotels.
All of the men said they had little or no memory of the events, Means said.
"They felt like they had been drugged," the prosecutor said.
The prosecutor urged the jury to convict Huynh of the sexual assaults of both men and the murder of Williams.
"The evidence will tell who did it ... the defendant," she said.
In her opening statement, Deputy Public Defender Marian Gaston said Huynh had done "some very bad things, but he's not a killer."
She reminded the jury that a deputy medical examiner has ruled Williams' cause of death to be "undetermined."
Gaston said a defense expert will testify how "we can't always point our finger at someone."
She urged the jury to find Huynh not guilty of murder.