Crime - Sacto 911

Crime Q&A: What happened to trio accused of fatal stabbing in 1990 robbery?

Q: Back in 1990-92, a very close freind of mine, Gardell Fong, was robbed and murdered by two males and a female in the vicinity of Fulton Avenue. Are these murderers still in jail or prison?

James, Sacramento

A: One man was convicted and another acquitted of the July 30, 1990 stabbing death of Gardell T. Fong.

According to stories in The Sacramento Bee, Irene Linda Garcia, an 18-year-old prostitute, lured Fong, 35, to an Auburn Boulevard motel room with a promise of sex. But her was intent to set him up for robbery by Lowell Edward Potts and Kevin Duane Ward. During the robbery, Fong was stabbed 21 times.

In post-arrest statements to police, Potts and Ward each blamed the other for the homicide. Because each claimed the other was responsible for the killing, their cases were heard by separate juries.

Ward admitted he helped rob Fong, but his attorney said Ward turned his back and walked away as Potts administered the 21 stab wounds that killed Fong.

The prosecutor argued that both men planned and committed the robbery and under the felony murder rule, it is first-degree murder if anyone dies during the perpetration of a robbery.

Potts’ jury returned a guilty verdict and found that the killing had occurred during the commission of a robbery, qualifying Potts for a sentence of life imprisonment without possibility of parole. But Wards’ jury acquitted him of murder. One juror who heard Ward’s case said there was no evidence that Ward ever touched the knife. Another said that although both men intended to rob Fong, Ward didn’t know Potts was going to kill him.

Potts, now 47 years old, is at High Desert State Prison in Susanville.

According to Sacramento Superior Court records available online, Garcia pleaded guilty to being an accessory to the crime and was sentenced to two years in state prison.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy