Harris County, Texas
Sheriff's Deputy

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On December 21, Randy Eng and Murray Campbell were working security at a wedding reception and trying to end an argument over a Vietnamese refugee not drinking enough cognac to satisfy his companions.  Man Nhu Truong's sister had just gotten married and the fuss began when the killer's brother, Chau Truong became angry that another guest was not drinking as much cognac as the rest of the people at their table.  As the dispute deteriorated into shouting, Eng intervened and ordered Man Truong to leave.  Murray Campbell arrived to relieve his partner just as Chau Truong left the table and went into the men's room. Seconds later, Campbell said, he followed Eng into the room where a group of reception-goers had gathered.  Campbell said he had a funny feeling and felt he should keep his partner in sight.  While Eng talked to Chau Truong, Campbell talked to others in the restroom and told them if he saw them drinking, they would be ejected.  They were leaving behind the group when a series of five slugs pierced the door, hitting Eng in the head and leg. Standing just behind Eng, Campbell was struck in the left arm by a round. Man Truong fled with his brother, Hoang Truong, and was still wearing the formal garments he had worn to the reception when he surrendered days later to police in Cameron, Mo.

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News Articles 

12/23/96 - Charges filed in slaying of deputy/Suspect still at large after shooting at party

A man ejected from his sister's wedding reception was charged Sunday with capital murder in the overnight shooting death of one of two Harris County deputy sheriffs who made him leave.  Deputies Randy Eng , 38, and Murray Campbell, 34, were gunned down about 10 p.m. Saturday in the Imperial Palace restaurant in the 9100 block of Bellaire in southwest Houston, officials said.  Charged with capital murder was Man Truong, 24. He fled and was still at large Sunday, police said.  Eng was struck in the head and leg and was taken to Ben Taub Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. Campbell was wounded in the arm and remained hospitalized Sunday.  Eng and Campbell were working off-duty security jobs at Imperial Palace on Saturday night.  After being ejected from the reception, following a disturbance, the gunman returned and opened fire on Eng and Campbell as they escorted another unruly guest from the restroom of the restaurant, officials said.  Police said the deputies were "ambushed" by the gunman when he returned, and were unable to return fire. Police had said earlier that the deputies might have returned fire and struck their assailant.  Truong was described as the unemployed brother of the bride. He had no prior criminal history, said Houston Police Department homicide investigator John Swaim.  Eng was a member of a longtime Houston family. His father is a retired Houston municipal court Judge Sam Eng Sr., said Sheriff's Department Major Juan Jorge.  The slain deputy was single and had no children, Sheriff's Department officials said. He had been with the department for nine years and was assigned to the Detention Bureau's Master Control Room, Jorge said. Campbell, a five-year veteran of the Sheriff's Department assigned to the Detention Bureau's Emergency Response Team, is married and has three children.  Truong is believed to have fled and may be with two of his brothers, Chao and Hoang, in a gray, four-door Toyota Camry, bearing Texas license plate HCR 95G, police said. The brothers are not charged, but are being sought for questioning, police said.  "(The shooting) surprised me," said Jenny Chau, owner of the Yan On Ginseng Co., next-door to the Imperial Palace. ""We have not had any trouble here before."  Both Swaim and Jorge urged the Asian-American community to assist them in locating Truong, who is described as 5 foot 4 inches tall, weighing 105 pounds.  Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Truong or his brothers is asked to call the Houston Police Department Homicide Division at 731-5800.  HPD spokesman Jack Cato said a reward fund was being organized for the person who provides information that leads to Truong's arrest.  Jorge said both deputies also were involved in a shooting incident in the same area about 18 months ago while working a security job. He said he did not know the specifics of the incident, but said both Eng and Campbell were no-billed by a Harris County grand jury.  The large, posh restaurant was extremely busy Sunday morning with customers waiting in line to eat.  Eng is the 22nd Harris County deputy sheriff to die in the line of duty since 1930.  Funeral services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at Second Baptist Church, 6400 Woodway.  Visitation will be from noon to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Memorial Oaks Funeral Home at 13001 Katy Freeway.  

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12/24/96 - Deputy's accused killer surrenders

The man accused of fatally shooting a Harris County sheriff's deputy surrendered in a small Missouri town Monday, still dressed in the formal attire he had worn to the wedding reception where the deputy was killed.  Man Truong, 24, was "very calm, quiet" and chilled from freezing rain when he walked into the Cameron Police Department at 10:45 a.m., Lt. Don Fritz said.  Truong is charged with capital murder in the slaying of Randy Eng , 38, about 10 p.m. Saturday at the Imperial Palace restaurant, 9164 Bellaire Blvd., in southwest Houston. Deputy Murray Campbell, 34, released from Ben Taub Hospital on Sunday, was wounded in the arm in the incident.  Truong, the unemployed brother of the bride, fled with his two brothers, Chao and Hoang, in a gray Toyota Camry, police said. He was headed for Canada.  "He probably had a change of heart along the way," Houston police homicide Sgt. John Swaim said.  Dr. Tinh Van Tran, 54, president of the Vietnamese American Association of Houston and Vicinity, said the surrender came after a nightlong telephone vigil.  Tran said he contacted Truong's sister and had her pass along his phone number to her brothers if they called. About 11:45 p.m. Sunday, one of the suspect's brothers called collect from a pay phone, complaining of cold and hunger but refusing to say where he was before hanging up.  After several calls and hang-ups, Tran said he learned they were in northern Missouri and headed to Canada. He told them Truong's picture and a description of the car had been sent across the country.  "I told them you are very easily spotted, three Vietnamese guys in a car with a Texas license plate," Tran said. "Anybody can spot you."  Tran said he convinced them to drive to a rest area midway between Kansas City and Cameron, where he would send a cab to take Truong in.  On a pay phone at the rest area, Tran finally talked directly to Truong. Tran said it was only then that the young man, who immigrated to Houston after high school in Vietnam, learned he was charged with capital murder.  "The guy cried when I talked to him and told him that the deputy died," Tran said. "I told him, `Do you love your family? Don't get your mother and father in trouble. Do you love your brothers? If you are a good boy, you won't get them involved in this,' and he cried."  Tran said the suspect told him he was drunk at the reception and he thought he was shooting at the man he had been fighting with earlier, not the deputies.  Tran set up a conference call with Houston attorney Joe Maida, who advised Truong of his rights. Truong then got in the cab and headed to Cameron, a town of 4,500 about 40 miles northeast of Kansas City. The brothers headed south, back to Houston.  Moments after Maida contacted the police in Cameron, Truong strolled in, Fritz said.  "He came walking in the front," Fritz said. "He was wearing a black coat and black slacks, tux-type clothing. Came in empty-handed, just a little money in his pocket."  Houston police investigators traveled to Missouri on Monday afternoon to interview Truong at the county jail in Plattsburg, but how soon he is returned to Houston depends on him.  "This time of year it might take longer" than a week, District Attorney John B. Holmes Jr. said. "We don't have to wait that long. If he's that agreeable, he could waive extradition and be back tomorrow."  Otherwise, Holmes' office will take the case to a grand jury. If an indictment is handed down, the paperwork will be forwarded to Gov. George W. Bush for a governor's warrant, which will be sent to Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan.  Harris County Sheriff Tommy Thomas said he had hoped to nab Truong here.  "Certainly we would have liked to arrest him, but the fact that he's in custody does make us feel good," he said.  Eng 's family released a statement praising the agencies involved in the investigation and putting faith in the justice system to resolve the case fairly.  The surrender came a day before the suspect's father was set to make a public apology to the deputies' families and a public plea for the capture of his son.  Glenda Joe, an activist in Houston's Asian community, said the community was embarrassed by the tragedy and word had been sent out all over the country that Truong must be caught.  "The response from the Vietnamese community has been very, very intense," Joe said. "They feel a great deal of shame about this."  Eng and Campbell, working off-duty security jobs at the wedding reception, had ejected Truong after he was involved in a disturbance in the restroom. The deputies were escorting out another unruly guest when they were ambushed.  Eng was shot in the head and leg, and Campbell in the arm, police said. Both were rushed to Ben Taub Hospital, where Eng died.  Truong, who had no criminal history, was identified as the gunman by witnesses, police said. His brothers were not charged in the case, but Swaim said investigators would like to talk to them.  Eng - the 22nd sheriff's deputy to die in the line of duty since 1930, according to department records -was a member of a longtime Houston family. His father is retired Houston municipal court Judge Sam Eng Sr.  The deputy, a nine-year veteran assigned to the Detention Bureau's Master Control Room, was single and had no children.  Campbell, a five-year veteran assigned to the Detention Bureau's Emergency Response Team, is married and has three children.  Services for Eng are scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at Second Baptist Church, 6400 Woodway. Visitation will be from noon to 9 p.m. Thursday at Memorial Oaks Funeral Home, 13001 Katy Freeway.

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12/25/96 - Suspect in deputy's slaying waives extradition / Man reportedly feared being robbed

A capital murder suspect waived extradition Tuesday and was on his way back to Houston to stand trial in the killing of Harris County sheriff's Deputy Randy Eng.  "He's putting his faith in the justice system," defense attorney Mike DeGeurin said of Man Truong, 24.  DeGeurin said that Truong's family was at the attorney's office Monday night and that he had spoken with Truong.  Eng , 38, and fellow Deputy Murray Campbell, 34, were working off-duty security jobs at a wedding reception at a restaurant in the 9100 block of Bellaire on Saturday night before being "ambushed", officers said.  Eng was shot fatally in the head and leg. Campbell, wounded in the arm, has been released from the hospital.  The officers had ejected Truong from the restaurant after he was involved in a restroom disturbance.  Truong, the bride's unemployed brother, was identified by witnesses. He fled with his two brothers, Chao and Hoang, in a car evidently headed for Canada.  Dr. Tinh Van Tran, president of the Vietnamese-American Association of Houston and Vicinity, spent Sunday night talking on the phone with the brothers as they made their way north.  Tran convinced Truong on Monday to surrender to authorities in Cameron, Mo.  At a news conference Tuesday, Tran and Glenda Joe of the Council of Asian-American Organizations explained why Tran worked so hard to help police.  "Anyone who knows much about the two communities, knows there is some tension," Joe said, referring to Chinese-Americans and Vietnamese-Americans.  Joe said a Vietnamese-American killing a Chinese-American law officer is "hard, it's hurtful - it doesn't help."  Tran said the depth of the Asian community's feelings about Eng 's death drove him to work hand-in-hand with police - up to a point.  Those familiar with the events said police would have preferred that Tran tell them where Truong was, and allow them to go after him. Tran said his goal was to divide the three brothers, one of whom told him Sunday night that Man Truong, "is scared, he is like a dead man in the car."  Tran said he knew if he could get Truong away from his brothers, without a car or weapon, the surrender would be safer. He talked Truong into taking a cab from a rest stop to Cameron police.  "I think my way is still a good way . . . no police cars, no chase, no shooting," Tran said.  The news conference, Joe said, was held for the two communities "to try and get a handle on those feelings, to allow the community to express its sorrow."  It was also to allow Truong's father to issue a public apology, but DeGeurin nixed that move and halted Tran's account of how he talked Truong into turning himself in.  DeGeurin declined to say whether Truong had admitted to him he pulled the trigger. Police would say only that Truong "did not deny" shooting the deputies.  DeGeurin declined to detail what sort of defense he planned.  "The why question is one that takes a wise person to understand," DeGeurin said.  Others familiar with the case said Truong would say he got a gun because he feared being robbed by other reception guests and that he shot the deputies by accident. 

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12/27/96 - Slain officer's rites set today; suspect returns/No Chinese-Vietnamese tensions seen

As sheriff's Deputy Randy Eng 's family and friends began paying their final respects Thursday, his accused killer was returned here to await trial for capital murder.  Man Nhu Truong, 24, charged in the shooting that left Eng dead and Deputy Murray Campbell wounded, was returned from Cameron, Mo., where he surrendered to authorities Tuesday.  Eng and Campbell, 34, were working off-duty security jobs at a wedding reception in the 9100 block of Bellaire Saturday night when they were shot after ejecting Truong.  Truong, the bride's unemployed brother, was identified by witnesses, and fled with his two brothers, apparently on their way to Canada.  Dr. Tinh Van Tran, president of the Vietnamese-American Association of Houston and Vicinity, convinced Truong to surrender.  Truong, whose family retained Houston attorney Mike DeGeurin, waived extradition.  Sources said the Truong family was considering asking New York City attorney Barry Scheck, a member of O.J. Simpson's criminal defense team, to represent Truong.  The Truongs have an unlisted telephone number, and there was no answer Thursday at their southwest Houston home.  Meanwhile, some Asian-Americans in Houston said they do not expect relations between Chinese and Vietnamese here to deteriorate because of the shooting. Eng is of Chinese ancestry; Truong is Vietnamese-American.  City Councilwoman Martha Wong said many Chinese here have expressed sympathy for Randy Eng's family as well as for Man Nhu Truong's family.  She believes many of them sympathize with Vietnamese who came here as refugees, because both nationalities had to start their lives over.  "A lot of Chinese came here under duress," said Wong, a U.S.-born Chinese. "Many were poor, not well- educated. So in many ways, the Vietnamese repeated the story of the Chinese."  But U.S.-born Chinese Glenda Joe, a community activist and public relations firm owner, insists that Chinese have historic and political biases against Vietnamese that carried over from emigration.  "Even today, all Asian immigrants have this," she said.  For years, Joe said, she has watched Chinese in Houston turn their backs on Vietnamese immigrants. For instance, many Vietnamese immigrants, even of Chinese ancestry, were helped with resettlement by agencies like Catholic Charities rather than by Chinese community groups.  Joe's and Eng's families are longtime acquaintances, and Joe said that when she brought up Eng's death with one of her relatives, he responded, "The damn Vietnamese."  "A lot of Asians don't want people to know there are cracks in the foundation of our community, but they are there," Joe said. "It's an ethnocentric bias."   She said Tran and several other local Vietnamese called her after the shooting and asked her to lead Tuesday's press conference to express their sorrow.  She said she made her comments about "tension" between Vietnamese and Chinese because of her relative's comment and to try to "pre-empt hardening of feelings" by the Chinese.  Joe said she does not believe any of the biases would lead to violence.  "No one has as much exposure to these communities as I do," she said. "People who want to say the tension or bias is not there have an agenda to have the community seem unified."  However, Nancy Nguyen, who immigrated from Vietnam in 1975, said she counts many first-generation Chinese 40 and older among her friends here.  A resident near the ever-growing Asian businesses on Bellaire Boulevard in southwest Houston, Nguyen said she has never experienced hostilities from her many Chinese neighbors.  She said Joe's comments earlier this week also bewildered her Vietnamese friends, who had never heard or encountered such hostilities from Chinese.  Although she and other Vietnamese are disgusted that a Vietnamese is accused in the deputies' shooting, Nguyen said, they do not feel collective shame.  "It is bad that this man, an immigrant, seems to have broken a law in this country," she said. "But he acted alone. He has nothing to do with us, and we have nothing to do with them."  Services for Eng are scheduled for 2 p.m. today at Second Baptist Church, 6400 Woodway.  

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12/28/96 - Slain deputy laid to rest / Mourners recall deputy as hard-working, dedicated

Slain Harris County sheriff's Deputy Randy Eng was remembered at his funeral Friday as an amiable, hard-working, dedicated man.  His longtime friend, sheriff's Sgt. C.Y. Lee, told an overflow crowd of more than 1,700 people how he and Eng went through the police academy together, went to church together and shared their lives.  "He was a visionary," Lee said. "He knew what he wanted and he made it happen."  Eng, 38, a deputy since 1987, was shot Dec. 21 along with Deputy Murray Campbell, 34, at a Bellaire Boulevard restaurant while working extra jobs at a wedding reception.  The bride's brother, Man Nhu Truong, 24, allegedly shot them after they ejected him from the reception.  Campbell was not seriously wounded.  Truong fled but surrendered to authorities in Cameron, Mo., and is being held without bond in Harris County Jail on a charge of capital murder.  Eng was the county's 22nd deputy killed in the line of duty.  In July, Deputy Doug Noll, 26, died when his patrol unit collided with another police vehicle as they rushed to intercept a fleeing stolen car.  As was Noll's, Eng's service was held at Second Baptist Church with numerous area officers on hand.  Referring to the many officers in formal attire and the numerous police vehicles at the church, Sheriff Tommy Thomas said: "We're glad to see this kind of turnout. It shows what people thought of Randy."   Eng was assigned to the master control room of the County Jail at 1301 Franklin, where he controlled access to the facilities.  He also patrolled all the buildings under the sheriff's control.  Eng's survivors include his father, retired Houston municipal court Judge Sam Eng Sr.; his mother, Martha; and two brothers, Russell and Sam Jr.  Entombment was at Memorial Oaks Mausoleum.


01/24/97 - Brother charged

The older brother of Man Nhu Truong, who awaits trial for the capital murder of a Harris County sheriff's deputy, has been charged with hindering apprehension of the suspect.  Hoang Nhu Truong, 30, was arrested at his family's home in the 9600 block of Concourse on Jan. 14.  His charge is a misdemeanor, and he is free on bond.  Man Truong is accused of killing Deputy Randy Eng and wounding Deputy Murray Campbell while the two worked off-duty security jobs at Truong's sister's wedding Dec. 21.  The suspect, who fled the city with his two brothers, apparently for Canada, surrendered to authorities in Cameron, Mo., on Dec. 24.

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04/07/98 - Jury selection under way

Jury selection started Monday in the capital murder trial of Man Nhu Truong, 25, accused of killing one Harris County sheriff's deputy and wounding another.  Randy Eng, 38, was shot to death and Murray Campbell was wounded Dec. 21, 1996, as they worked off-duty security jobs at Truong's sister's wedding reception at a restaurant in the 9100 block of Bellaire.  The deputies had ejected Truong after a restroom disturbance.  Truong fled Houston but surrendered in Cameron, Mo., three days later and waived extradition.

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05/13/98 - Arguments under way in deputy slaying case
Testimony: Lawman tried to halt argument

A Harris County deputy sheriff was gunned down at a wedding reception after trying to end an argument over a Vietnamese refugee not drinking enough cognac to satisfy his companions, testimony showed Tuesday.  Deputy Sheriff Randy Eng, 38, was fatally injured in a volley of 9 mm rounds fired as he was exiting the men's room at the Imperial Palace restaurant in the 9100 block of Bellaire.  Descriptions of the deputy's Dec. 21, 1996, killing opened testimony at the capital murder trial of Man Nhu Truong, 26, in state District Judge Debbie Mantooth Stricklin's court.  The occasion at the restaurant was a wedding reception for the defendant's sister, and deputies Murray Campbell and Eng were there working extra jobs.  Ky Nguyen, 23, a Houston computer technician, said he went to the reception with his brother, Nhan Nguyen, and they ended up at the same table with the defendant and the defendant's brother, Chau Truong.  The fuss began when Chau Truong, described as intoxicated, became unhappy over Nhan Nguyen not drinking as much cognac as the rest of the people at their table.  As the dispute deteriorated into shouting, Eng intervened and ordered Man Truong to leave, Imperial Palace head waiter Beta Wong testified.  Campbell said he arrived to relieve his partner just as Chau Truong left the table and went into a restroom. Seconds later, Campbell said, he followed Eng into the room where a group of reception-goers had gathered.  "I had a funny feeling," Campbell told prosecutor Casey O'Brien, explaining that he felt he should keep his partner in sight.  While Eng talked to Chau Truong, Campbell said he talked to others in the restroom.  He told them: "If I see you drinking, you're out of here."  They were leaving behind the group when a series of five slugs pierced the door, hitting Eng , a deputy since 1987, in the head and leg. Standing just behind Eng , Campbell was struck in the left arm by a round.  Man Truong, still wearing the formal garments he had worn to the reception, surrendered days later to police in Cameron, Mo. 

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05/14/98 - Brother of murder defendant describes events after shooting

The brother of a man accused of capital murder testified Wednesday that moments after his drunken brother fatally wounded a Harris County sheriff's deputy, he grabbed him and shouted, "Run! Run!" in Vietnamese.  Hoang Truong said his brother, Man Nhu Truong, 26, was still holding the 9mm pistol used to shoot Deputy Randy Eng, 38, and had on the black tuxedo he had worn to his sister's wedding party when they raced away from the Imperial Palace restaurant.  "I drove real fast," Hoang Truong told jurors at his brother's trial in state District Judge Debbie Mantooth Stricklin's court. "I was very upset. I said, `Do you know what you did?' He didn't say anything."  Hoang Truong, a senior at the University of Houston, was the latest witness to describe the drunken dispute between Man Truong and their brother, Chau Truong, at the wedding party for their sister, Phuong, on Dec. 21, 1996.  Witnesses said the argument broke out when Chau Truong became angry at another man at their table for not drinking as much cognac as others. As the argument grew louder, Eng, working an extra job at the restaurant, finally asked Man Truong to leave.  Soon afterward, Hoang Truong found his brother, Chau Truong, in the men's bathroom, shouting that Man Truong had betrayed him when Eng and another sheriff's deputy, Murray Campbell, came inside.  "You listen," Eng told Chau Truong. "Don't do anything stupid or you'll go to jail." The brothers and their friends left the bathroom, followed by the deputies.  As Eng and Campbell approached the door, Man Truong opened fire, hitting Eng twice and Campbell once. Eng died later at a hospital.  Hoang and Man Truong were miles away within minutes. Truong said they stopped at a service station for a soft drink and were surprised to meet Chau Truong coming out with a bottle of Gatorade.  He joined them and the three drove north on Interstate 45.  "We kept talking about where to go, what to do, but nobody had the answer," Hoang Truong testified.  An hour's drive north of Dallas, Man Truong took his pistol apart and threw the pieces off a bridge. The weapon was never recovered.  As they proceeded north, switching to Chau Truong's car in Oklahoma City, where he was working, they began calling relatives in Houston.  They also began talking to Dr. Tinh Van Tran, president of the Vietnamese-American Association of Houston and Vicinity, on the phone. Hoang Truong said his brother finally decided to surrender.  Hoang and Chau Truong let Man Truong out of the car near the small Missouri town of Cameron. Arriving in a sleet storm wearing much of the tuxedo outfit he had worn to the wedding party, Man Truong walked into the police station there and gave up.  Chau and Hoang Truong headed west toward Denver to stay with a friend for six days before coming back to Houston.

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05/15/98 - Party guest convicted of murder 
Truong found guilty in killing of deputy

A jury took only 45 minutes Thursday to convict a man of capital murder in the 1996 shooting of an off-duty Harris County sheriff's deputy at a wedding party.  Man Nhu Truong, 26, can be sentenced only to death or life in prison in the trial's punishment phase that begins today in state District Judge Debbie Mantooth Stricklin's court.  Truong was convicted in the Dec. 21, 1996, slaying of Randy Eng, 38, in the Imperial Palace restaurant on Bellaire Boulevard during a large party following the wedding of Truong's sister, Phuong. The defendant was the best man.  Truong and his brother Chau, both highly intoxicated on cognac, got into a loud argument, and Eng told them to be quiet.  When the brothers and others continued arguing in the men's room, Eng and his partner, Deputy Sheriff Murray Campbell, ordered them to be quiet or face arrest. As they were leaving the bathroom, Man Truong opened fire on the officers, hitting Eng.  "Either Eng threw (Man Truong) out or what Randy Eng said to him was taken as an insult," prosecutor Casey O'Brien said. "He lost face."  Chau Truong said he had directed his brother to bring a gun to the party to protect the cash wedding-goers traditionally give the bride and groom at a Vietnamese wedding. Phuong Truong and her husband had received about $13,000.  But under O'Brien's questioning, Chau Truong admitted he had directed his brother to leave the weapon in his car.  The dispute began when Chau Truong wanted a man sitting at their table to start drinking more cognac, and he later became even madder at Man Truong for not siding with him in the dispute.  Testimony indicated Man Truong was not a serious drinker and may have never been so intoxicated.  

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05/16/98 - Murder trial in punishment phase
Convicted killer of sheriff's deputy is described as nice, polite, quiet

The capital murder of a Harris County sheriff's deputy at a wedding party may have been the only violent act a young Vietnamese immigrant ever committed, testimony at Man Nhu Truong's trial suggested Friday.  During the punishment phase, Truong's relatives, former employers and a psychologist portrayed him as a compliant, obedient, easily led youth.  Jurors in state District Judge Debbie Mantooth Stricklin's court must decide whether Truong, 26, should die by injection or receive a life sentence that cannot end in parole until 2036 for the Dec. 21, 1996, killing of Randy Eng, 38.  Capital murder trial penalty phases in Harris County typically involve prosecutors parading out previous crime victims and records of past misdeeds. In Truong's case, prosecutors Jane Waters and Casey O'Brien called Eng's mother and his partner, Murray Campbell, to show how the killing has damaged their lives.  Defense lawyer Jim Leitner called witnesses who described Truong as nice, polite, quiet, calm, dependent, placid and non-violent.  Psychologist Ann Wheeler said Truong does not really fit into any clinical diagnoses of her trade. The best predictor of future violence is past violence, she said, and Truong has no recorded history of violence.  Truong's brother, Hoang, said the defendant became emotionally bonded as a child to brother Chau while their father, a former South Vietnamese government official, was serving a 12-year stint in a Vietnamese "reeducation" camp following the war's end in 1975.  While Chau Truong is hot-headed, emotional and talkative, witnesses said, Man Truong is even-tempered, quiet and almost naive. Eng was slain in the Imperial Palace restaurant, where he and Campbell worked security, after the wedding of the brothers' sister, Phuong. Man Truong was best man and caretaker of $13,000 in cash presents to the newlyweds.  After Chau Truong argued loudly with a party guest, the deputies followed him into the restroom. Eng informed the intoxicated party-goer that he was headed to jail if he did not behave.  Shortly later, Man Truong opened fire on the deputies as they were walking out of the restroom, killing Eng and wounding Campbell.  Testimony resumes on Monday.

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05/19/98 - Jurors sequestered

A judge sequestered jurors Monday when they couldn't reach a decision on whether a man should get life in prison or the death penalty for the 1996 slaying of an off-duty Harris County sheriff's deputy.  Jurors in the trial of Man Nhu Truong, 26, deliberated from about 4:20 p.m. to 6 p.m. State District Judge Debbie Mantooth Stricklin sent them to a hotel, and they will resume work at 9 a.m today.  The jury Thursday convicted Truong of capital murder in the Dec. 21, 1996, slaying of Randy Eng, 38, at a restaurant during a party after the wedding of Truong's sister.

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05/20/98 - Jury sequestered again

A judge sequestered jurors for a second night Tuesday when they couldn't decide whether to give a man life in prison or the death penalty for killing an off-duty Harris County sheriff's deputy.  Jurors in the trial of Man Nhu Truong deliberated almost two hours Monday and all day Tuesday. State District Judge Debbie Mantooth Stricklin sent them back to a hotel, and they will resume work at 9 a.m today.  The jury Thursday convicted Truong, 26, of capital murder in the Dec. 21, 1996, slaying of Randy Eng, 38, at a restaurant during a party after the wedding of Truong's sister.  Jurors have asked to review certain testimony and evidence and asked the judge a question about the jury charge.

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05/21/98 - Lawman's death brings life sentence
Lack of violent past lets killer avoid execution

A 26-year-old man with no criminal record or history of violence was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for the 1996 ambush slaying of an off-duty Harris County sheriff's deputy.  The jury of seven men and five women could have sent Man Nhu Truong to death row for the capital murder of 38-year-old Randy Eng, but after three days of deliberations and two nights of being sequestered they opted for the lesser sentence.  Truong, who will not be eligible for parole for 40 years, was impassive when the jury's decision was read and stayed expressionless as state District Judge Debbie Mantooth Stricklin imposed the sentence.  Deputies and relatives of Eng who jammed into the courtroom to hear the decision were disappointed with the sentence.  "We can't say we're especially satisfied with the result," said Arthur Lin, a reserve deputy and Houston attorney acting as a family spokesman. "But we can say the prosecutors, the judge and the jury did an excellent job of evaluating what they were given."  The jury took 45 minutes last Thursday to convict Truong of killing Eng on Dec. 21, 1996, in the Imperial Palace restaurant on Bellaire Boulevard during a large party following the wedding of Truong's sister.  Truong and his brother, both intoxicated, got into a loud argument at the party, testimony showed. Eng, working an off-duty security job at the restaurant, asked Truong to leave.  Truong left, got a gun from his car and returned. Meanwhile, Eng and his partner, Murray Campbell, went into the men's room to resolve another dispute involving Truong's brother. The defendant was waiting for them when they came out.  Truong shot Eng in the head at close range and shot him again as he fell. As Campbell reached for his partner, he was shot in the arm, but he managed to pull the fatally wounded Eng out of the line of fire.  Testimony showed Truong fired five shots and the rounds whizzed around the enclosed space and nearly hit other bystanders. Truong fled, but two days later turned himself into authorities in a small Missouri town.  Campbell, described by prosecutors as a hero, testified emotionally during the trial and after the decision his eyes were moist as he got into an elevator. Another deputy embraced him.  During the punishment phase of the trial, Truong's attorneys, James Leitner and John Donahue, argued that their client had led a peaceful life until the night Eng was killed. Truong had no criminal record and had been a model prisoner in jail.  Leitner said the deadly mix of alcohol and a gun had changed Truong's behavior.  Prosecutor Jane Waters said it was ludicrous to blame Truong's crime on alcohol and that he deserved to die for what was a calculated, vicious ambush.  "He's innocuous, small, quiet and meek," Waters told jurors as she pointed to the diminutive Truong. "You wouldn't see him coming. Randy Eng never knew what was coming . . . never knew what hit him."  In the end, the jury found there were mitigating circumstances which warranted a life sentence. It was unclear what they thought those circumstances were because jurors did not comment.  But prosecutor Casey O'Brien said he had talked with jurors afterward and believed that they were swayed by Truong's lack of a criminal record.  "I think they had difficulty with the notion that somebody that had no violent history whatsoever in the past is someone that ought to get the death penalty," O'Brien said.  Leitner agreed.  "He had no runs-ins with the law, teachers or employers," Leitner said. "He was a model citizen up until the day of Dec. 21, when he got drunk and did this horrible act. I think that was the only reason his life was spared."  But O'Brien said he didn't think Truong's drunkenness that night played any part in the jury's decision, though it was an issue in the trial.  Waters and Sgt. Chris Lee, a deputy who grew up with Eng, praised the jury's work, but said they were concerned the decision might send a bad message to police officers.  But O'Brien said lawmen shouldn't see the decision as a lack of appreciation for the risks they face because jurors told him they consider Campbell a hero and that they are proud of officers like him and Eng. 

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05/26/98 - Ten officers from Houston area receive state awards for valor

Ten Houston-area law enforcement officers, including two Houston policemen, have received the state award for valor.  HPD Officers Robert Oppermann and Edwin Lem were cited for their heroic and courageous actions.  Oppermann jumped into Clear Lake and rescued a child trapped beneath the sail of an overturned boat July 2, then performed CPR on the boy. Oppermann, assigned to the Westside patrol division, has been with HPD since March 1995.  Lem encountered three masked men armed with military rifles while working security at a bank Feb. 6, 1997. Armed with only his duty weapon, Lem forced the suspects to flee, and there were no injuries. Lem, who joined HPD in July 1995, is assigned to the recruiting division.  Other area officers honored were Pasadena police Officer Glen Severs, Fort Bend County sheriff's Deputy Raymond Russell, Webster police Officer Bruce Kilinski and Harris County sheriff's Deputies Murray Campbell, Francisco T. Flores III, William K. Melancon and, posthumously, Randy Eng , shot to death last year at a wedding reception.  Alvin Police Chief Michael Merkel was presented the Award for Professional Achievement.  The annual awards from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education were presented during the Texas Law Enforcement Achievement Award Ceremony at the state Capitol last week.  

 

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