OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A prosecutor told jurors Wednesday that surveillance videos and witness accounts will prove that George Huggins is guilty of murdering a Virginia man in downtown Oakland in 2010 while the victim was visiting the Bay Area for a job interview at Google.
The victim, 45-year-old Jinghong Kang, was fatally shot in the 1900 block of Webster Street around 11:30 p.m. on July 18, 2010.
In his opening statement in Huggins’ trial, prosecutor Tim Wellman said Huggins, 26, and his former girlfriend, Althea Housley, 36, both of Oakland, targeted Kang and his friend Hai Huang as they stood next to Kang’s rental car, because they “were vulnerable and were easy targets.”
Wellman said Kang had flown to the Bay Area because he had a job interview at Google the next day and he had driven his rental car to downtown Oakland to have his teeth cleaned by Huang, a dental hygienist whom Kang had met at a church conference.
He said Huggins and Housley worked together as a team, with Huggins approaching male victims and Housley approaching female victims, and that was what they did when they walked up to Kang and Huang.
Wellman said Housley grabbed Huang by her hair and threw her to the ground and Huggins pointed a gun at Kang and demanded that he turn over his money.
Kang told Huggins all he had was $17, and he gave Huggins that amount but Huggins still fired three shots at him, striking Kang in his leg and his chest and killing him, Wellman said.
Housley and Huggins then fled, according to the prosecutor.
Oakland police obtained video footage of the suspects captured by
surveillance cameras at nearby businesses and they were later arrested, Wellman said.
Housley initially told police that she wasn’t involved but later admitted she was present. However, she said that Huggins was the person who shot Kang and claimed she didn’t know anyone would be shot, he said.
In addition to being charged with murdering Kang and attempting to rob him, Huggins is charged with two counts of robbery for allegedly robbing a man and woman, both 26 at the time, as they were sitting in a parked car in the 1700 block of Telegraph Avenue early the morning of June 21, 2010, several weeks before Kang’s killing.
Wellman alleged that Huggins shot the male victim in the leg in the earlier robbery. He said police ballistics experts have determined that the same .22-caliber handgun was used in both incidents.
Housley had faced a murder charge for allegedly being an accomplice in Kang’s shooting, but on Feb. 20 she pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter and attempted robbery for that incident and to two counts of attempted robbery for the incident on Telegraph Avenue.
Wellman said she will testify against Huggins, and if her testimony is found to be truthful she will receive a sentence of 15 years and eight months in state prison.
Huggins’ lawyer, Annie Beles, told jurors Wednesday that her client is innocent of murder and alleged that the person shown on video with Housley was not Huggins.
“The evidence will show that George Huggins didn’t commit this crime and wasn’t with her,” she said.
Beles said that during the trial, jurors “will hear (Housley’s) motives to say that George Huggins was with her” during both crimes.
Beles said she also questions the motives of a woman who received a $1,000 reward from police for identifying Huggins and Housley as the culprits and of a jailhouse informant who told prosecutors that Huggins admitted to him that he shot two people during robberies in downtown Oakland, killing one.
Wellman said the informant, who was in jail for a statutory rape conviction, was released from custody five weeks early because of the information he provided about Huggins, but that if he lies on the witness stand he will be sentenced to up to three years in prison.
Kang’s widow, Wendy Wang, testified briefly at Huggins’ trial and then told reporters afterward that she and the couple’s three children are still “devastated” by his death and “are still recovering.”
Wang said, “I really miss my husband and my children miss their father.”
Asked what kind of punishment Huggins should receive if he is convicted, Wang said, “I’m a Christian and I trust the legal system will bring justice. I don’t have any predefined thoughts.”
The family has suffered financial hardship since Kang’s murder and a fund has been set up at the Metropolitan Bank in Oakland to help them. Checks can be sent to:
Kang Family Fund
250 East 18th Street
Oakland, CA 94606
(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)