Criminal Justice

Prosecutor drops murder count, says wrong twin was charged

A prosecutor dismissed a murder charge against a California man on Wednesday, saying that not he but his twin brother was responsible for the slaying last month of a San Jose State University student at a birthday party.

But Duc Tong, 18, still faces felony charges of being an accessory after the fact and is being held in lieu of $200,000 bail. His twin Anh Tong, 18, is charged with the murder of Richard Phan, 22, and is being held without bail, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Deputy Santa Clara County District Attorney Dan Fehderau declined to say what had led him to conclude the wrong man was initially charged with the knife slaying. However, he did say he believes the two suspects are fraternal twins, rather than identical twins, as police had said. Identical twins have the same DNA, but fraternal twins do not.

Defense attorney Steve Clark, who apparently is not involved in the case, told the newspaper the unusual prosecution shows how hard it can be to pursue a criminal case involving twins.

“It makes it extremely difficult and can lead to a lot of confusion and finger-pointing,” said Clark. “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?’ “

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