LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Prosecutors announced Wednesday that they won’t seek the death penalty against a man charged with the stabbing deaths of two men last year at a private social club in Chinatown.
With capital punishment off the table, Vinh Dao would face a maximum of life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of the Jan. 26, 2017, killings of Tony Young and Kim Kong Yun, both 64, at the Hop Sing Tong Benevolent Association at 428 Gin Ling Way.
Dao, 38, pleaded not guilty to the murder charges, which include the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders and an allegation that he personally used a knife in the commission of the crimes.
At a hearing in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom last October in which he was ordered to stand trial, three men who were at the club identified Dao in court as the man they saw stabbing Yun in the neck with a knife.
Chung Kim Lam testified that Dao initially wandered around the club and that he eventually heard Yun asking Dao to leave the club and saw him trying to push Dao out of the club.
The witness testified that Young rushed toward Dao after he pulled out a knife.
“I saw the blood. I was so scared,” Lam said, testifying that he saw Dao trying to chase Young and that he didn’t see what came next because he rushed out of the club.
He said he went to a nearby business to look for a friend to call 911, then later returned and saw Young lying face-down on the stairs and Yun on the floor.
Another witness, Jimmy Y. Wong, testified that Dao appeared to be arguing with Young and Yun — who had been playing mah jongg when Dao came into the club — before the defendant pulled out a knife and stabbed Yun twice and then Young three times. He acknowledged telling a police officer the day of the stabbings that he didn’t see what had happened to Young because he ran out of the club.
A third man, Rui Zhou Yu, told the judge that he ran out the club’s back door and called police after seeing Dao stab Yun, who was bleeding from the neck.
LAPD Detective Kasie Chavez testified that Young was found lying on the stairs and that Yun’s body was found by the front door.
A deputy medical examiner concluded that Young died of three stab wounds to the neck and chest and an incision on his left wrist, while another deputy medical examiner concluded that Yun died of a stab wound to the neck, according to the detective.
Dao — who was described by Los Angeles police as a former member of the club who had recently returned to Los Angeles after several years in the Las Vegas area — was arrested in Rosemead about 24 hours later. He remains jailed while awaiting trial.