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Trial begins in Tigard shooting of Beaverton man

Prosecutors allege Orlando Pouncey was part of 'murder-for-hire' plot to kill Jerry Duy Nguyen

Orlando PounceyOrlando Pouncey was acting in self-defense when he fatally shot a Beaverton man three times outside his girlfriend’s home in Tigard last January, his attorney told jurors this week.

Opening statements began in Pouncey’s murder trial on Tuesday, with both sides painting very different pictures of what happened that Friday evening in a quiet neighborhood off Southwest Canterbury Lane.

Pouncey is charged with murdering Jerry Duy Nguyen, a 36-year-old Beaverton auto mechanic. He is also charged with unlawful use of a weapon and being a felon in possession of a weapon.

According to Pouncey, he had been visiting his girlfriend Lauren Nguyen on Jan. 30 at her Tigard condo in the 10700 block of Southwest Canterbury Lane when her ex-husband, Jerry Nguyen, came to pick up their teenaged son for the weekend.

Pouncey hid in the garage, not wanting to start a confrontation with Nguyen, who had a fierce temper, Pouncey’s attorney John Gutbezahl told jurors on Tuesday morning.

“She told him, ‘It’s best if you’re out of sight,’” Gutbezahl said.

Jerry Nguyen became enraged when he learned that Pouncey was at his ex-wife’s home, Gutbezahl said, and stormed outside. Standing outside Lauren Nguyen’s attached garage he began to berate Pouncey, and threatened to kill him.

“Mr. Nguyen could have gotten into his car and left,” Gutbezahl said. “He didn’t have to go anywhere near that garage, other than walk past it. But he doesn’t.”

Pouncey opened the garage door as Lauren Nguyen attempted to restrain her ex-husband from attacking, Gutbezahl said. At one point, Lauren Nguyen saw Jerry Nguyen reach inside his jacket and was concerned that he might have a gun.

Fearing for his safety, Gutbezahl said, Pouncey fired three shots into Jerry Nguyen with a handgun. He spun as he fell, landing face first on the cement driveway outside the condo.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The state’s case

Jerry Duy Nguyen

But prosecutors laid out a much darker and sinister version of events to jurors on Tuesday morning.

According to deputy district attorney John Gerhard, Pouncey was the hired muscle in a murder-for-hire plot to kill Jerry Nguyen.

“The defendant wasn’t trapped (in the garage),” Gerhard said. “He was in a tactically superior position. He had control of how he would confront Jerry Nguyen and the timing of that confrontation.”

Lauren Nguyen has not been charged in Jerry Nguyen’s death, but prosecutors allege that she played an important role in what happened.

The day before the shooting, Pouncey and Nguyen were seen on surveillance footage at a Tigard Walmart purchasing ammunition and several other items. Lauren Nguyen pleaded guilty to a federal charge of being a felon in possession of ammunition last August.

Jerry Nguyen was shot twice in the abdomen and once in the shoulder. All three of the bullets passed through his body, the latter bullet also severed his trachea.

According to prosecutors, Pouncey asked Lauren Nguyen for Jerry Nguyen’s car keys after the shooting.

“He was going to take (Jerry’s) car to flee the scene,” Gerhard said.

Unable to find the keys, Pouncey ran off, Gerhard said. Surveillance footage showed him at his ex-girlfriend’s apartment complex a block away a few minutes later, he said. There he stashed the gun under her mattress, changed his clothes and called a friend to pick him up.

Pouncey then disappeared. He was arrested 10 days later at a family member’s home outside of Tacoma.

Lauren Nguyen was spotted by U.S. Marshals visiting Pouncey in Washington before his arrest, Gerhard said. She claimed to have been visiting Pouncey’s family and it was a coincidence that he had been there.

After his arrest, Nguyen continued to visit him, prosecutors claim, even using a fake name to visit him after she was prohibited from having contact with him. Nguyen is also helping to pay for his legal defense.

Gutbezahl, Pouncey’s attorney, said that Lauren Nguyen felt guilty about the shooting and was doing her best to help Pouncey through his ordeal.

“Mr. Pouncey would never have met Mr. Nguyen except for her,” Gutbezahl said. “She felt extremely guilty about the events that she had witnessed.”

Letters from prison may reveal truth

Prosecutors said that Pouncey told fellow inmates about what happened and wrote letters to loved ones explaining his side of the story.

“I hope this letter gets to you because I really need you to hear me out,” Pouncey allegedly wrote to an ex-girlfriend while in jail. “What I did was crazy, but to tell you the truth, when I shot Jerry I wasn’t thinking about or the life we had. One day I was hanging out with you and Venom (his dog), the next day I was waiting in Lauren’s garage waiting to take his life.”

Prosecutors claim Pouncey gave the letters to a fellow inmate who was related to his ex-girlfriend. The inmate was meant to smuggle the letters out of jail, but instead turned them over to the District Attorney’s office, Gerhard said.

“I just need to kiss that bitch’s ass so she can continue to play the part we agreed on,” Pouncey allegedly wrote in a separate letter. “Lauren paid half up front, but on the real I wish I shot her too I wish I had left no witnesses I could have got away with it. When you are done reading this burn it please. I miss and love you.”

Gutbezahl, Pouncey’s attorney, said he wasn’t convinced that the letters were written by Pouncey and could have been fabricated by inmates at the jail in an attempt to lessen their charges.

“He didn’t have hours to deliberate in that garage,” Gutbezahl said. “He had to make a decision.”

By Geoff Pursinger
Assistant Editor
The Times, serving Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood
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