HONOLULU - The daughter of a woman shot to death at a Honolulu intersection in 2011 described on Monday seeing her mother's head jerk back and worrying that the shooter would kill her as well.
Cindy Nguyen was in the passenger's seat of her mother's van when Tammy Nguyen was shot in the head on June 3, 2011.
Cindy Nguyen, now 18 and the youngest of 10 children, was the first witness in the murder trial against Toby Stangel, who is accused of going on an early-morning highway shooting rampage.
Shown in court June 6, 2011
"I was sure that he saw me," she said. "I thought he would come back and kill me, too."
There were eight bullet holes in the van, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Nadamoto said in his opening statement. As Cindy Nguyen was calling 911, Stangel shot at another motorist and then continued onto the H-1 freeway, where he shot and injured two others, Nadamoto told jurors.
Stangel then shot at two police officers who were ticketing drivers who had been racing, Nadamoto said.
Meanwhile, Cindy Nguyen heard dripping and feared that meant the vehicle would explode.
"I realized the dripping noise was from her blood," she recalled as members of her family sobbed in the courtroom.
Defense attorney John Schum noted in his opening statement: "The facts of this case are not in dispute. But this case is about more than plain and simple facts."
Schum said his client didn't have the "state of mind" required to convict him.
Stangel was found mentally fit to stand trial based on reports from three mental health experts appointed to examine him.
The judge last year granted the prosecution's request to hold Stangel without bail, revoking the $5 million bail he had been held on for more than a year. The defense had asked for Stangel to be released to his father, senior pastor at North Shore Christian Fellowship.
Honolulu police released some audio files of 911 dispatch communications during the shootings after the Honolulu Star-Advertiser sued for their release under state open-records laws. In one recording, an officer is heard saying: "We got a bona fide shooting with a victim involved over here."
Police can be heard responding to the separate incidents. In another recording, a male caller reports hearing about six gunshots.
If convicted, Stangel faces three potential life sentences without the possibility of parole.