A Las Vegas man has been found guilty of murder in a double stabbing at a Chinatown social club that rattled the community in 2017, prosecutors announced Wednesday.
Vinh Dao, 39, now faces a life sentence without the possibility of parole after a jury on Tuesday convicted him of two counts of first-degree murder in the incident at the Hop Sing Tong Benevolent Association, a fraternal club that has been around since 1876.
In the afternoon of Jan. 26, 2017, Dao disrupted a mahjong game at the organization and started arguing with 64-year-old Kim Kong Yun before fatally wounding him with a knife, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.
The attacker stabbed Tony Young, also 64, when Young tried to help the first victim, according to court testimony.
Young had been known in downtown L.A.’s Chinatown neighborhood for decades, the Los Angeles Times reported in 2017. Before apparently leading a quiet life and becoming president of Hop Sing Tong, he was pursued by federal officials who believed that he led a Chinese gang linked to at least two homicides.
Dao, on the other hand, had been a club member years earlier and knew some of the people who were present at Hop Sing Tong at the time of the stabbings, the District Attorney’s Office said.
The first victim, who managed the club, had refused Dao’s request to stay there overnight because it was against policy, a witness testified in court, according to the L.A. Times.
The manager claimed Dao had stolen a friend’s vehicle, witnesses said. At some point, Dao pulled out a 6-inch knife and stabbed him in the neck twice, according to court testimony.
The attacker subsequently stabbed Young three times in the chest, witnesses said.
Dao fled the scene but was arrested the following day in Rosemead.
In addition to the murder charges, the jury on Tuesday also found true a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, as well as allegations that he used a deadly and dangerous weapon and that he was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in a fatal stabbing outside a nightclub in Koreatown in 2002.
He was sentenced to five years in prison for that crime, District Attorney’s Office spokesman Paul Eakins said. He received nearly a year of credit for time served, but it’s unclear when he was released, Eakins said.
Dao is scheduled to appear at the county courthouse in downtown L.A. on May 22 for sentencing.