Was Chong Ling Dan so upset about his former girlfriend moving on without him that he enlisted the aid of two men to ambush and execute her new partner? Or are the murder charges being lobbied against him by the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office a case of overzealous prosecutors jumping to unfounded conclusions, as Dan’s defense lawyer argued Wednesday?
The case will play out in county court in the coming months, as Magisterial District Judge Edward Levine held Dan, 50, over on first-degree murder, criminal solicitation, and conspiracy charges after his preliminary hearing in Lansdale.
Dan has been accused of ordering the killing of Ebony Pack, 30, who was shot dead inside her car as she was stopped at a red light in Lansdale two days after Thanksgiving 2020.
Prosecutors, led by Assistant District Attorney Brianna Ringwood, say Dan hired two of his friends, Terrance Marche and Ricky Vance, to follow Pack from her home in Bucks County as she drove to meet a girlfriend in Lansdale.
Dan’s lawyer, Guy R. Sciolla II, called that theory ”borderline absurdity“ during Wednesday’s hearing, and said none of the evidence presented by Ringwood established Dan’s involvement in Pack’s murder.
”In order to hold Mr. Dan for trial for murder, the court has to leap to a conclusion of conspiracy based on cell phones being close to each other in the same city,” Sciolla said. “If that’s true, I suggest we all stop using our phones.”
Cell phone data show all three men met up at Dan’s girlfriend’s house before Pack was shot, and later reconvened hours after the shooting, according to the affidavit of probable cause for his arrest.
Additionally, the affidavit said that a female witness recently told detectives that she saw Vance and Dan together after Pack, a nurse who cared for COVID patients, was killed. The witness also said that Vance had assured her police investigating Pack’s death “ain’t gonna find nothin’.”
But that key piece of evidence was cast into question Wednesday when the witness was unable to identify Dan from the stand, and seemed to walk back her statement made to county detectives.
Vance, 52, has been charged with murder and related offenses for driving the vehicle used in the shooting. Marche, the alleged triggerman, hasn’t been seen since April, when he boarded a plane to Honduras with Dan shortly after Vance was arrested in connection with the case. Marche’s girlfriend told detectives Dan had called her and said Marche would not be returning to Philadelphia, according to the affidavit.
However, Ringwood said Dan’s motive in ordering Pack’s killing was clear.
“There is no other link between Ebony Pack and Ricky Vance other than that man,” Ringwood said, referring to Dan. “There’s no other reason for her to be shot dead other than him.”
Pack’s girlfriend, Jasmine Stokes, testified Wednesday that she was afraid of Dan, and that he wouldn’t leave her alone after their relationship ended in July 2020. He was angry, she said, that she had begun dating Pack.
Dan had given Stokes $19,000 to hold for him, and demanded she return the money after their relationship ended. When Stokes returned only $9,000 — having spent the rest — Dan became irate, she said, and at one point violently confronted her at a gas station in Philadelphia.
During that encounter, Dan threatened Pack, prosecutors said, telling Stokes that he was “gonna fix her.”