California Bookie Homicide Trial Heads to Jury, Involves Sports Betting Operation
Jurors will resume reviewing evidence Monday of a California sports gambling middleman accused of murdering a bookie over mounting debt. Closing arguments in the trial took place last week in a Santa Ana courtroom.
Dennis Tri Gia Dang, 32, of Westminster, Calif., is charged with murder for the Oct. 20, 2019, fatal shooting of Linh Ho in Huntington Beach, Calif. The reputed bookie was 48 at the time of his death and resided in Fountain Valley, Calif.
Dang allegedly wounded Ho in the face. Orange County prosecutors said the shooting was premeditated. But defense lawyers contend it was an act of self-defense, the Orange County Register reported.
It was revealed during the trial that Dang was a middleman in a California gambling scheme managed by Ho, the Los Angeles Times reported. Dang would find gamblers and collect debts. Dang also took a cut on the money, the Register explained.
But Dang found it increasingly difficult to make successful collections. He owed about $60,000 to Ho by October 2019. Among those who owed money to Dang were his friends from college days, reports said.
Ho was increasingly angry with the progress on payments. He was making threatening statements to Dang in connection with the debt.
The statements culminated the morning before the shooting, when Ho texted Dang to pay the debt “or else you can’t blame me for what happens to you,” court testimony revealed.
So, Dang and Ho were to meet at a Huntington Beach strip mall parking lot to discuss the money. Dang carried a firearm to the meeting.
Dang entered Ho’s SUV, and about a minute later he fled the Escalade. A wounded Ho was able to exit the SUV. He fell down on a lawn.
He had been shot in the right temple. A few days later, he passed away at a local hospital.
Dang was apprehended. When speaking with local police, he admitted to shooting Ho, the Register said.
Dang wanted to pay Ho about $2,000 that day. Then, he would pay off the rest of the debt gradually. But Ho refused to accept the payment plan.
Dang initially brandished the firearm just to “scare” Ho, testimony revealed. Then, Ho tried to snatch the weapon. A shot was discharged.
But prosecutors argued Ho was not armed nor did he pose a threat to Dang’s life in the SUV.
Dang’s attorney, Ricardo Nicol III, suggested to the jury they consider a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, the Register said.
Nicol offered a different story based on Dang’s version of the incident.
He says there was a struggle in the car and he was scared,” Nicol said in court. “He believed he needed to protect himself.”
Dang, Ho Were Close
Dang’s father, Jimmy Dang, was described as a “good friend of Mr. Ho,” California’s City News Service reported based on statements from prosecutors. The younger Dang called Ho “uncle,” the report added.
The defendant and victim had worked together for about eight years. Before going to work for Ho, the defendant received a criminal justice degree from the University of California, Irvine, the report added.
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