Man guilty of murdering 12-year-old girl from Gaithersburg -- Gazette.Net


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This story was updated at 5:24 p.m., Aug. 15, 2012.

A Montgomery County jury found David Rich Hang guilty of first-degree murder last week following nearly seven hours of deliberation.

Hang, 43, of Hyattsville, was accused of using a sword to stab 12-year-old Jessica Nguyen — his estranged stepdaughter — to death in her Gaithersburg home on May 31, 2011.

Prosecutors said Hang committed the killing to get back at Nguyen's family, who contested his divorce from Nguyen's mother in 2010, preventing Hang from putting his new wife on his work insurance and costing him thousands in court fees and insurance costs.

"This was an extremely difficult case from the time of the murder up until this very moment," said Montgomery County Assistant State's Attorney Stephen Chaikin after hearing the verdict Aug. 15. "We are extremely thankful for the hard work and decision of the jury."

Montgomery County Public Defender Brian Shefferman declined to comment following the verdict.

State's Attorney John McCarthy, who was present for closing arguments Aug. 14 and listened to the verdict the following afternoon, praised Chaikin and Feinstein for their work in the case, as well as the hard work by police leading up to the trial.

While all convictions of first-degree murder carry a mandatory life sentence, prosecutors will ask the judge to deny Hang early release through parole, McCarthy said.

"We looked at the vicious nature of the crime; we're talking about a 12-year-old child who was murdered in her own home ...,” McCarthy said. “We think [Hang] deserves to spend the rest of his life in jail. We believe he should die in jail.”

Nguyen's family contacted Hang sometime before 2009 and arranged to pay him $25,000 to marry Nguyen's mother, Khen Kim Vu, as part of a scheme for Vu to gain citizenship, according to court testimony. Hang lived with the family for a few months, but moved out when Vu's brother got him a job as a Ride On bus operator, attorneys said.

Friction began when Hang attempted to file for divorce from Vu in 2010 after marrying another woman, Xuyen Hoang. Nguyen's family contested the divorce and Hang became angry, prosecutors said.

Testimony began Aug. 7 and lasted until Aug. 14 when attorneys made closing remarks. The jury began deliberating shortly before 5 p.m., immediately after closing remarks.

Nguyen's family, several of whom testified through interpretors during the trial, kept watch outside Judge Sharon Burrell's courtroom until the jury was dismissed at 6 p.m. Aug. 14.

The family took up the vigil again the following morning until the verdict was announced at 3 p.m., shaking hands with Chaikin and fellow state's attorney Debbie Feinstein outside the courtroom afterwards.

"It is a big help, even though we know it cannot bring back Jessica, at least we know that this man, David Hang, will spend the rest of his life in jail," said Hoa Din, Nguyen's uncle, speaking on behalf of the family.

The jurors filed out of the courtroom shortly after Burrell closed the hearing. At least one juror was in tears as she left.

Hang appeared shaken by the verdict, hiding his face in his hands and shaking his head slowly as attorneys set his sentencing date for Oct. 29.

Hang was in a different mood just a day earlier, appearing amused and even laughing at one point during Chaikin's closing statements.

"Today he was not laughing," Chaikin said after hearing the verdict last week. "Today justice was served."

jarias@gazette.net