Vietnamese gang member was sentenced to life in prison without parole Friday for the 1995 execution-style slaying of a fellow gang member, prosecutors said. An Orange County jury convicted Anthony Paul Johnson, Jr., 36, of Westminster in April of counts of murder and conspiracy to commit murder, with sentencing enhancements for murder by lying in wait, committing a crime for the benefit of a criminal street gang and murder to avoid arrest. Co-defendants Giang Thuy Nguyen, 36, of Fountain Valley; Tam Hung Nguyen, 36, of Riverside; and Truc Ngoc Tran, 35, of Santa Ana were each found guilty of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. They are scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 21 and all face life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to the District Attorney's Office. On Feb. 24, 1995, Johnson, Giang Nguyen and fellow gang member Viet Nguyen robbed the Huntington Beach home of one of Viet Nguyen's high school classmates, prosecutors said, but Viet Nguyen fled the scene in the middle of the robbery because he thought the victim recognized him. Prosecutors said the other gang members plotted to kill Viet Nguyen for running away and to prevent him from implicating them if he were identified by the victim and arrested. Viet Nguyen was shot in the back of the head the next day while driving in Costa Mesa, after the other gang members persuaded him to take them to buy drugs, according to a statement released by the D.A.'s Office. To avoid retribution from their gang, prosecutors said the defendants lied and claimed Viet Nguyen was killed by a drug dealer in Costa Mesa. The case went cold until 2006, when the Costa Mesa Police Department began reinvestigating with the help of the District Attorney's Office. During sentencing Friday, an impact statement from the victim's father was read to the court. "Since the day we laid our son to rest, we have never stopped thinking about him, of his infectious smile," he wrote. "People tell us they hope we will be able to have some sense of closure. We don't know if we ever will. My other two sons and three daughters have lost their brother. How do you close an open wound in your heart?"
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