A possible death penalty looms on the horizon for a woman accused of the robbery, mutilation and death of a local psychic and her daughter.
Almost five years ago in a small stucco house on Bird Ave in Little Saigon, Tanya Nelson and her accomplice Philippe Zamora allegedly consummated their plans to rob and murder Ha Jade Smith and her daughter Anita Nhi Vo.
It all began when Smith, unable to return Nelson’s lover to her through her psychic powers had advised her she couldn’t change reality. Nelson then allegedly recruited Zamora as a hitman and accomplice, and both traveled across the United States to exact revenge, but according to the Orange County Register Smith’s family and investigators believe the killers were also after the money and jewelry kept in the house.
Zamora and Nelson, are both Vietnamese and originally from Garden Grove. The pair were longtime clients of Jade Smith and had set an appointment with her for a reading on the day of the killings. Officials allege that after taking Smith to breakfast, the pair set their plans in motion upon returning to the house on Bird Avenue. According to Anita Vo’s friends she was lured back to the house that afternoon by a call to her cellular phone.
The presence of Smith's Pomeranian outside on April 22 prompted one of Vo’s friends to contact the police. Both women were found repeatedly stabbed and white paint was poured over their faces, possibly in an effort to hide their wounds, or in Vietnamese tradition to ward off evil. Perhaps these perpetrators wanted to make sure the ghost of these victims did not follow them.
Five weeks later, Nelson and Zamora were arrested after Nelson used one of Smith’s credit cards to buy a flight to Orange County. Both were held in Santa Ana on murder and burglary charges.
Fast forward to 2009 where Zamora became the prosecution’s key witness and pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and faces a sentence of 50 years to life in prison. Nelson allegedly persuaded him to take part in her plans by promising to arrange gay sex partners for him.
Nelson’s trial who is ongoing at this time is now claiming that she did not take part in the crime which according to her defense was solely committed by Phillipe Zamora and that she was not even at the scene of the killings.
The trial is expected to resume today in Orange County Superior Court.
By Matt Coker - OCWeekly.com
April 23, 2010
A North Carolina woman received the death penalty today for murdering a Westminster fortune teller and her college-student daughter, whose heads and hands were covered in white paint.
Tanya Jaime Nelson, 46, of Roanoke Rapids, NC, had been found guilty by a jury Feb. 16 of two felony counts of special circumstances murder, the special circumstances being the murder of multiple victims, murder by lying in wait and murder during the commission of robbery. She and an accomplice killed the pair and stole credit cards, expensive jewelry and other items.
The jury had recommended death for Nelson.
Her co-hort, Phillipe Zamora, 55, also of Roanoke Rapids, pleaded guilty April 14 to two felony counts of first degree murder and was sentenced to 27 years to life in prison.
Zamora testified against Nelson.
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