Most of the first day testimony in the St. Martin triple murder focused on the crime scene. Investigators explained where the dead bodies were when Ming Huynh and her daughters Tanh and Thuy Nguyen died.
In opening statements today, prosecutors told jurors they had evidence that linked Tong Le to the killings.
The defense said Le didn't take part in the murders. Richard Conant represents Le. The defense attorney said that on the day of the murders, his client was easily influenced by somebody eight years older. In opening statements, Richard Conant told jurors that on November 1, 2001, "Mr. Le unfortunately thought he was going to rob a family."
That family lived at 15200 Big Ridge Road.
Prosecutors told the jury that the robbery was part of a crime that exploded into a triple murder. The state said that Le and his accomplice stole $1,300 from the Nguyen family. But before the suspects left Big Ridge Road, DA Keith Miller said Le helped brutally murder Minh Huynh, and her daughters Thanh and Thuy Nguyen.
The district attorney said, "Our belief is that they killed the children in front of the mother in an effort to try and get money."
A diagram of the murder scene was used in court. It showed the bedroom where Jackson County deputies found the mother. Across the hall was another bedroom. That's where the 15 year old died. And the den near the front of the house was where investigators testified the 11 year old was killed. "They were beat all about the head and the face," said Miller. "They had strangulation marks on their necks. And one of the girls had knife marks across her arm."
Le's defense attorney declined an invitation to talk about the case. In opening statements, he told jurors he'll use testimony from some Jackson County inmates to refute the prosecution's story.
Prosecutors said confessions they took from Tran and Le would be used as testimony in this case.
The jury could decide Tong Le's fate as soon as Thursday.
No one from the Nguyen family was in court. According to the district attorney's office, Mr. Nguyen is the only surviving member of his family. So right after he found the dead bodies of his wife and two daughters, the St. Martin man moved back to Vietnam.
Two people were charged with the St. Martin triple murder. But only Tong Le must face a jury. As you may remember, Ngan Tran committed suicide while he was locked up in the Jackson County adult detention center.