Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods
Tragic Magic
Bad Fortune
Bad Fortune
Westminster, Calif., police found fortune-teller Ha "Jade" Smith and her daughter Anita Vo brutally stabbed to death in Smith's home in April 2005, after relatives reported concern at not hearing from either for several days. Use of Smith's credit cards by one Tanya Nelson, aka Phuong Thao Nguyen, provided a quick break for investigators, though, and Nelson and an accomplice, Phillipe Zamora, were charged in April 2006 with the murder and robbery of Smith, renowned within the Vietnamese-American community of Southern California for her fortune-telling. Under interrogation, Zamora admitted to the murders and claimed that Nelson had orchestrated the killing in revenge for Smith's refusal to give Nelson a fortune that would reverse the collapse of her affair with her husband's brother. Zamora accepted a plea bargain for life imprisonment in exchange for testifying against Nelson, who was convicted in February 2010. In March, the jury voted to recommend the death penalty for Nelson, subject to the presiding judge's concurrence, whose decision is expected in March.
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