Two defendants charged with the robbery and murder of a 55-year-old man who won $10,000 at Hawaiian Gardens Casino pleaded guilty today in a deal with prosecutors that will guarantee them a chance at parole.
Tad Allen Carroll, 45, of Buena Park, who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, is expected to be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Barbara Ann Hamel, 50, of Long Beach, who pleaded guilty to second- degree murder, is expected to be sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.
Carroll and Hamel, who were scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 21, faced life in prison without the possibility of parole if they were convicted at trial.
Their plea deals follow the one co-defendant Michael William Ross struck with prosecutors in September when the 29-year-old Long Beach resident pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.
They were all charged with the Sept. 3, 2010, killing of 55-year-old Chi Ngoc Bui in Santa Ana.
"This is a just result in that they are taking responsibility for their crimes and they are being lightly rewarded for that," Yellin said.
Carroll, Hamel and Ross were all initially charged with first-degree murder in the course of a robbery, second-degree robbery and attempted second- degree robbery.
Investigators believed Ross was looking for big winners at the casino for his cohorts to rob.
Carroll and Hamel, meanwhile, waited outside the casino in a Pontiac Grand Prix, according to prosecutors.
Bui, who was gambling with his friend Kim Nguyen, cashed in his chips for $10,000 in cash and left the casino about 4 a.m., Sept. 3, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Investigators believe Ross tipped Carroll and Hamel, who followed Bui as he drove Nguyen home to Santa Ana, according to prosecutors.
Hamel, who was driving, cut Bui and Nguyen's car off about 4:30 a.m. in the 100 block of South Anders Place and blocked them, Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said when the defendants were arrested.
Carroll got out of the vehicle and approached Bui -- who also exited the Honda Accord in which he was riding. Carroll threatened Bui with a knife and the two fought before Carroll was able to take some of his money.
As Hamel and Carroll fled in their vehicle, it ran over Bui, killing him.
-- City News Service