Wrong Twin Accused of Killing Man in San Jose Stabbing

| by Lina Batarags

It was apparently a case of mistaken identity when San Jose officers arrested Duc Tong for stabbing a man to death. On Wednesday, officers realized it wasn’t, in fact, Duc Tong who had committed the crime – it was his twin brother, Anh Tong.

They have adjusted the charges accordingly.

The murder allegedly occurred on January 26 when both Tong brothers attended a birthday party in San Jose’s Piedmont neighborhood. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the party was held on Suncrest Avenue; the twins had been invited there by a guest of the host, police said.

The victim was 22-year-old Richard Phan. Phan was in his senior year, studying biological sciences at San Jose State University.

When a fight broke out at the party around 1:30 a.m., Anh Tong reportedly stabbed Phan. San Jose Police Department spokesman Officer Albert Morales said that Phan might have been trying to break up the fight outside the home just before he was stabbed.

Phan died at the hospital about 30 minutes after the stabbing.

Witnesses were unable to differentiate between the two brothers and thus were unable to report which Tong had stabbed Phan. Officers took both brothers into custody.

While one twin is no longer being charged with murder, neither of the 18-year-old Tong brothers has a clean record.

Duc Tong is being charged with a felony count of acting as an accessory to murder, and is being held on $200,000 bail. Anh Tong is being charged for murder with a felony enhancement for using a knife and is being held without bail.

San Jose police have said that the two brothers are identical; District Attorney Dan Fehderau, however, believes them to be fraternal.

Fehderau declined to explain what led to the switched charges.

Legal expert and former prosecutor Steve Clark has spoken out about the difficulty of cases involving twins who have been accused of a crime, noting that these cases “can lead to a lot of confusion and finger-pointing.”

“If the DA gets it wrong the first time, the defense is going to argue, ‘Well, who’s to say they got it right the next time?’” Clark said.


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