A Sinister Stranger?

Suspect in OC man's death goes on trial

By Alicia Dean
|  Thursday, Jun 2, 2011  |  Updated 9:32 AM PDT
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Images of Dane Williams

Philong Huynh (left) is accused of murdering Dane Williams, who was last seen leaving a Gaslamp Bar in January 2008.

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Prosecutors are painting a chilling picture of a so-called predator as the trial begins for Philong Huyhn, the man accused of murdering Dane Williams, a Huntington Beach man who disappeared during a convention in San Diego in 2008.

"It was a cunning disguise that gave the defendant full access to what he sexually desired. Using a combination of drugs and alcohol he rendered his victims vulnerable and helpless, like babies or bed ridden patients," said Prosecutor Gretchen Means during her opening statement Wednesday morning.

Investigators believe williams was one several young men Philong Huyhn drugged and sexually assaulted after befriending them in the gaslamp between 2007 and 2009. All told eerily similar stories of ending up in strange hotel rooms after having drinks with Huyhn.  The victims said they felt disoriented and confused.

"When they awoke the next morning they were alone in the room, the door was open, like Dane some were missing their watches," said Means who also told jurors watches belonging to two of the victims were found at the Huyhn's home.

Witnesses told investigators they last saw Dane Williams stumbling out of a hotel bar in the early morning hours of January 26th, 2008.  The 23-year-old's body was later found wrapped in a blanket in a city heights alley not far from Huyhn's home.

His cause of death was initially ruled inconclusive. Investigators made a break in the the case when they say DNA evidence linked Huyhn to Willams and another sex assault victim.

"There was substantial physical and forensic evidence that put Dane Williams in the defendant's home at or around his death," Means said.

Williams was in San Diego for a Sports retailer convention. It was his first big assignment-- part of his dream job at the popular Hurley surf gear and clothing company. Prosecutors say his bright future ended when he ran into Huyhn, a seemingly kind stranger with a dark past.

His mother testified she knew something was wrong the moment she heard he hadn't shown up for work at his company's booth at the convention center the next morning. "My heart dropped because it was so unusual that not just i hadn't, his friends hadn't heard from him. I just knew something happened," said Valen Williams who told the jury Dane was the fun-loving life of her family. "He lit up the room when he walked in,"

Opening statements and cross examination by Huyhn's  defense team suggests it will try to prove Dane Williams may have died from an underyling health condition.

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