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Torn pornographic magazine key evidence in Newport Beach murder conviction

May 6, 2010 |  8:33 am

A jury convicted a man of killing a liquor store owner who had accused him of stealing a pornographic magazine from the store.

In the end, the torn magazine in question turned out to be a major factor in the case.

The jury of eight women and four men took about nine hours at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana to find Weston Scott Kruger, 31, guilty of killing Newport Beach liquor store owner Hao “Tony” Huynh. The verdict was read Wednesday.

The 100-pound Huynh died after a scuffle with the 6-foot-5, 275-pound Kruger on July 28, 2007, outside Sportsman’s Liquor Store, 2615 Newport Blvd. The shopkeeper had accused Kruger of stuffing an adult magazine under his shirt while he was in the store buying a pack of cigarettes. Huynh chased him outside, and a struggle between the two men ensued.

At trial, a witness testified that Kruger pushed the shopkeeper to the ground with such force that Huynh sailed through the air and landed on the back of his head. The shopkeeper had a 4- to 5-inch crack on the back of his head, and he died the next day from massive brain injuries.

The jury had to decide whether Kruger threw the magazine at Huynh during the argument as an act of intimidation before shoving him, or if he tossed it to get the clerk to leave him alone.

The jurors’ decision would mean the difference between finding Kruger guilty of manslaughter or first-degree murder.

“It was the forcible taking of the magazine during the crime that made it murder; that’s the law,” Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Matt Murphy said after the verdict was read.

Read the full story here.

-- Brianna Bailey, Daily Pilot