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Double Trouble: Prosecutors Charged the Wrong Twin

By William Peacock, Esq. | Last updated on

My brothers are identical twins, so this is a question that has come up often in my family: if one of them were to commit a crime, how could the police tell the difference between the two?

Apparently, they can't. Twin brothers Anh and Duc Tong were arrested for the murder of a San Jose State University student late last month. Yesterday, prosecutors dropped the charges against Duc, and properly filed murder charges against Anh.

They have the right twin now -- they hope. Here's a tip: the evil twin is always the one with the moustache.

The Murder

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the Tong brothers were involved in a fracas at a house party, and when SJSU student Richard Phan, 22, tried to break it up, he was stabbed to death.

The brothers fled, but were captured two days later.

Charged the Wrong One

Last week, Duc was charged with murder. Anh was arrested, but not charged.

This week? It's Anh's turn. Prosecutors announced yesterday, in an amended complaint, that new evidence had come to light that "required a re-evaluation of the roles." Anh was charged with murder and an enhancement for using a knife, while Duc was charged with two felony counts of acting as an accessory after a crime.

Or Did They?

C'mon. Who isn't salivating at the thought of being the defense attorney on this case?

He did it. No, he did it. How do you know he did it? They have identical DNA.

But, Anh was wearing a red shirt! Maybe they switched shirts. HE HAS THE EVIL TWIN MOUSTACHE!

The Mercury-News cites an expert that states the obvious: this is going to be a difficult case to prosecute, especially if the twins are as genetically identical as they appear to be.

Eyewitnesses? Not only are eyewitnesses useless, but a bunch of drunk witnesses at a house party trying to tell the difference between twins? Now that is what we call a credibility issue.

DNA evidence? It'd point to both. Fingerprints? Those would be different, assuming fingerprints were recovered.

Grab your popcorn folks. This a bad Law and Order episode come to life.

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