Hearing in Felicia Tang Murder Case Is Delayed

Oct 22, 2009 5:00 PM PST
PASADENA, Calif. — A judge on Thursday gave more time to Brian Randone’s legal defense, rescheduling the preliminary hearing for the man accused of the torture and murder of adult star Felicia Tang.

Randone was ordered back to Judge Dorothy Shubin’s courtroom on Monday after the prosecution added witnesses to the case.

Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Philip Wojdak on Wednesday added an expert toxicologist and one of Tang's friends to the list of witnesses he will call to testify during the preliminary hearing.

Defense attorney Mark Overland, who said he wasn't informed of the additional witnesses until late Wednesday, said he needed more time to prepare for cross examination of the two witnesses, and the judge approved.

Randone is accused of beating and suffocating Tang inside a Monrovia, Calif., apartment they shared and has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He is being held in lieu of $2 million bail.

With a birth name of Felicia Lee, Tang was born in Singapore, raised in Australia, and became an online-adult top draw for seven years, from 2001 to 2008.

The Los Angeles County Department of Coroner determined Tang's cause of death as homicide by asphyxiation. The report also found traces of cocaine in Tang’s body, as well as gamma hydroxy butyrate (GHB), also known as the “date-rape drug.”

Overland said he will argue that Tang died from a drug overdose and that any marks on Tang’s body occurred when Randone attempted to restrain her during some sort of altercation.

He has hired a "foremost expert" to testify that GHB could have been the cause of the actress' asphyxiation. Some medical experts claim GHB use can cause death by causing brain depression to the point of respiratory depression, where one stops breathing.

Wojdak admitted Tang was a “recreational user” and that detectives found a bottle of GHB by her nightstand, but he said that the issue of apparent drug use is irrelevant in this case.

"Whether on this particular day he forced it into her, I have no evidence one way or another," he said.

"The toxicologist will explain the significance of any level of GHB in the victim's blood," Wojdak said. Tang's friend "will describe the victim's familiarity with GHB."

Wojdak said he will prove that Randone forced her face into a pillow or hard surface.

The case has a number of high-profile attorneys adjudicating or monitoring the case.

Overland, a name partner at downtown Los Angeles-based Scheper Kim and Overland, handles mostly criminal cases, including capital cases.

One of his most notable recent cases was the defense of an octogenarian who was charged with 10 counts of vehicular homicide at the Santa Monica Farmers Market in 2003.

Wojdak has worked for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office for more than 24 years. His current assignment is prosecuting elder abuse, sexual assault, stalking, family violence and hate crimes.

While some might see his blindness as a major obstacle, Wojdak said he thinks it gives him an advantage. "When the jury sees that the prosecutor is a blind person, I've got their interest," Wojdak told the Los Angeles Daily News in 2007.

The Tang family has entered the equation as well. Mother Elizabeth Tang has hired attorney Gloria Allred to handle legal work and public relations.

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