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Suspect could get death penalty

Weston Scott Kruger faces murder, robbery charges. He had prior burglary, domestic-violence charges, records show.

September 22, 2007|By Brianna Bailey

Family members of slain Newport Beach liquor store clerk Hao “Tony” Quang Huynh filled the front row of the courtroom during Weston Scott Kruger’s arraignment Friday.

“I want to know why he killed my brother and how,” said a tearful Jenni Huynh outside the courtroom.

The 6-foot-5, 275-pound Kruger is accused of killing Huynh July 28 in a scuffle after the clerk accused him of shoplifting and chased him outside of Sportsman’s Liquor Store in Newport Beach.

Dressed in an orange jail uniform, Kruger pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and robbery Friday. The defendant chatted casually with other inmates in the Plexiglas courtroom holding cell before the hearing and appeared unemotional during the proceedings.

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Jenni Huynh carried a 4-by-6-inch snapshot of her brother to the hearing. Wrapped in a computer printout of a news story about the case, the picture shows Tony Huynh laid out in his coffin. The Huynh family has attended each of Kruger’s scheduled court appearances since Tony Huynh’s death, Jenni Huynh said.

“His (Tony Huynh’s) children don’t understand why he died,” Jenni Huynh said. “He was just working hard to give them a good life.”

The prosecution says Kruger threw Huynh to the ground in an argument over a pornographic magazine Huynh accused the defendant of stealing. Huynh died the next day from massive head trauma.

Kruger was out on bail on separate charges of domestic violence and burglary at the time of the altercation with Huynh, according to court records.

Kruger is scheduled to be back in court for a preliminary hearing Nov. 29.

Kruger could face the death penalty or life without parole if he is convicted of murder in the commission of a robbery under state special circumstances laws, said Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Matthew Murphy.

A committee of Orange County prosecutors will meet to discuss the case before a decision is made to pursue special circumstances in the case, Murphy said.

“The decision is up to the committee,” he said.


BRIANNA BAILEY may be reached at (714) 966-4625 or at brianna.bailey@latimes.com.

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