By Jim Tortolano/Garden Grove Journal
Anthony Paul Johnson, Jr., 36, was sentenced in Central Justice Center in Santa Ana on Wednesday for his part in the execution style-shooting of Viet Nguyen alongside Route 73 in Costa Mesa on Feb. 24.
Co-defendants in the case – Giang Thuy Nguyen, 36, of Fountain Valley, Tam Hung Nguyen, 36, of Riverside and Truc Ngoc Tran, 36, of Santa Ana — will face sentencing on Sept. 21 in Santa Ana.
According to the Orange County District Attorney’s office, Johnson was sent to prison for life after his April 10, 2012 conviction for one count of murder and one felony count of conspiracy to commit murder with a sentencing “enhancement” for murder by lying in wait, committing a crime for the benefit of a criminal street gang, and murder to avoid arrest.
The incident took place back in 1995, when – according to authorities – five gang members committed a masked home invasion robbery in Huntington Beach at the home of a high school classmate of Viet Nguyen. During the robbery, he became fearful that he had been recognized and fled the home.
Later that evening, the other gang members met at a house in Midway City and decided to punish their runaway associate. While on a motor trip on the pretext of buying drugs, the gang members took Viet Nguyen with them. The driver, claiming to be ill, pulled the vehicle over on the 73 freeway in Costa Mesa. It was then that Tam Nguyen shot Viet Nguyen in the head.
The case went cold until 2006, when the Costa Mesa Police Department and the OCDA re-opened the investigation.