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A prosecutor told jurors today that the former assistant night manager of an Alameda Safeway store should be convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for killing two men that he owed money for gambling debts. In his closing argument in the trial of 23-year-old Andrew Toon Wong, prosecutor Autrey James said Wong admitted in phone calls to his mother and a friend that he committed the two killings but then lied to police by claiming that he was innocent.
James said Wong told friends in online messages beforehand that he would carry out the shooting deaths of cookie deliveryman David Wells, 62, of Oakdale, on July 31, 2008, and Quang “John” Quach, 36, on April 3, 2009. James alleged that Wong expressed his intent to kill by saying, “I’m going to take him out” in one message and asking a friend in another message, “Would you rather owe money to a bank or to someone you can kill?” The prosecutor said Wong told a friend in a third message that, “I’ll shoot someone if I keep losing.”
Wong’s lawyer, Tim Pori, admitted that Wong “bragged, boasted and chatted that he had committed the homicides” but he said there’s insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he actually carried out the murders. Pori said Wong “lived in a fantasy world and played too many video games” but his friends didn’t buy the tough-guy image he was trying to create. He said Wong “made dramatic statements but no one ever believed his tales of murder and mayhem.”
Wong was the assistant night manager at the Safeway store at Alameda Towne Centre, where Quach worked the overnight shift as a stocker in the frozen-foods section. Quach was shot inside his home in the 600 block of Foothill Boulevard in Oakland on April 3, 2009. Wells, who delivered cookies to the Safeway store in Alameda, was found slain in a parking lot near Oakland International Airport on July 31, 2008. Both victims were shot in the head.
Wong owed money to both men and decided to kill them instead of repaying them, Oakland police said. Police recovered approximately three-dozen guns when they arrested Wong in April 2009 and searched the home on Shannon Circle in Alameda where he lived with his parents. Wong could face life in state prison without the possibility of parole if he’s convicted of two counts of murder as well as the special circumstance clauses of committing multiple murders. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office chose not to seek the death penalty for him. Jurors began deliberating Wong’s fate late today and will resume their deliberations Tuesday morning.
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