Cao jury hears of robbery, slaying Woman tells of former boyfriend's description of the crimes.

September 18, 1991|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Evening Sun Staff lJB

Speaking in the same matter-of-fact tone she used to #F describe watching TV, shopping and going to parties, Terri Nguyen related her former boyfriend's description of the robbery and murder of a Randallstown businessman gunned down in his home Oct. 21, 1989.

"He said that him -- Johnny -- and Tony had broke in through the basement," Nguyen said, referring to Johnny Song, 21, her former boyfriend and Tony Cao, 21, the man on trial in Baltimore County Circuit Court for the robbery and murder of In Gyu Choe, 54, a Korean immigrant who owned a liquor store.

"And then they came upstairs," Nguyen continued. "And that's when the man, the old man, had discovered them in the house. The old man had attacked Johnny. And that's when Johnny started shooting him. He said the old man wouldn't stop attacking him and that's when they shot him several more times."

In court yesterday, Nguyen, 20, pointed to Cao, a slender, black-haired Vietnamese immigrant, and identified him as the man who went with her former boyfriend to rob and murder Choe.

The case was continuing today.

Nguyen, who after the killing lied to police to protect Song and who held onto some of the stolen property until July of this year, has not been charged.

Cao and Song, a Korean immigrant who once lived in California, have been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Choe. Song's trial, which was removed to Caroline County, is scheduled Oct. 21.

The testimony of Nguyen so far appears to be the strongest evidence against Cao, who also is charged with burglary and robbery.

The victim's wife, speaking through a Korean interpreter last week, was unable to positively identify Cao, and none of his fingerprints were found at the scene.

On the witness stand, Nguyen testified that Song, Cao and another man, Chris Yu, left the Baltimore apartment where she and Song lived about 7 p.m. the night of the killing and returned after midnight with a black purse and paper bag.

In the purse were passports and money and in the brown shopping bag was a "slim jim" device and a smaller bag containing a floral purse. Inside the floral purse was a gold watch and rare coins and two-dollar bills, Nguyen said.

Asked about the slim jim, Nguyen said Johnny often went out with it to break into cars and steal things. "It's one of those things you open cars with if you forgot your keys or if you wanted to break into a car," she said.

The next morning, Nguyen said, Johnny told her all about the robbery and murder of Choe. He told her that Yu, their landlord, had stayed outside the house in the car, afraid to go inside the Choe home.

Yu has left the area and Baltimore County police have issued an arrest warrant charging him with first-degree murder, as the driver in the crime.

Nguyen testified that after Johnny Song told her about the murder, they went to sleep, waking up late that afternoon.

Then they went to a party, she said.

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