EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

October 3, 2012

Skull fracture killed driver

Murder trial expected to be to jury today

SALEM, Mass. — Jurors yesterday viewed an autopsy photo showing the 5-inch skull fracture Thu Nguyen, 59, suffered before he died after delivering a Chinese food order near the Lawrence Stadium Housing Projects in 2009.

State Medical Examiner Dr. Marie Cannon said the cause of Nguyen’s death was blunt force head trauma that led to brain bleeding. Ultimately, his brain became so swollen it stopped sending signals to other organs, Cannon said.

Police and prosecutors allege that Ronny Ramos and Daniel Lee Lopez, both of Lawrence, called the Evergreen Restaurant at 105 So. Union St. that night with the intention of robbing Nguyen and stealing the food.

But something went awry, and at about 10 p.m., Nguyen was punched, fell to the ground, and fractured his skull on the sidewalk near the low-income housing development near Lawrence High School. He died the following day at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, leaving behind his wife and three children.

Yesterday was the third day of the trial. On Monday, numerous witnesses called by the prosecution said they could not remember what happened that night or admitted they didn’t want to testify in the trial.

That attitude was prevalent again yesterday, with witness Wainer Caba, 20, of Lawrence, admitting to prosecutor James Gubitose “I don’t want to be here,” while he was on the stand.

Caba also said he felt threatened, feared for his safety and lied when police questioned him about the murder in August 2009.

“You felt the need to say things (a state trooper) wanted to hear to get out of that room,” defense lawyer Aviva Jeruchim asked.

“Yes,” Caba replied.

When questioned by Jeruchim, Caba later agreed he “repeated the same lies (he) adopted the first time around” when he testified before the Essex County Grand Jury, which indicted both Ramos and Lopez.

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