After he and two friends were lured to Southwest Philadelphia, beaten, tied up, and blindfolded with duct tape, Tan Voong testified Monday, they were put inside a van and driven near the rowing grandstands on Kelly Drive.
When the van stopped, Voong, 24, told the Common Pleas Court jury that will decide in the double-homicide trial of Tam Minh Le, he was pulled out and forced to walk toward the Schuylkill.
"I felt sand on my feet. Next thing I know, I felt like something stabbing me. I fell to the ground," and before long he was forced into the river, he said.
"Luckily, the water wasn't deep," he said. Although blindfolded, he managed to reach the concrete wall that lines the river there, and rest his head against it to keep from drowning. The chain his attackers had used to bind his feet came loose.
He heard his friends - brothers Vu "Kevin" Huynh, 31, and Viet Huynh, 28 - scream, followed by the splash they made when they were tossed into the river.
"It's done," Le told his accomplices, Voong testified. Then, Voong heard the van leave.
After what may have been one, two, or three hours after the van left, Voong said, he used the stone wall to rub the duct tape off so he could see, and walked until he could clamber out onto the bank.
Le, 44, is on trial on two counts of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and other crimes in the death of the Huynh brothers, whose bodies were found about 4 a.m. Aug. 27, 2014. Their legs had been weighted down with buckets of tar.
At times testifying in a soft voice under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Ed Cameron, Voong detailed how he was lured to Le's home Aug. 26.
Voong said he received a call from Vu Huynh asking him to get $100,000 and head to Le's home on 72nd Street near Grays Avenue. Voong said he was able to raise $40,000, and went to Le's home.
Le - whom the Huynh brothers had previously introduced as their "god-brother" - met him out front, then steered him to the garage, Voong said. Inside were two to four people wearing masks. Voong tried to run but didn't get far, and was soon trussed up and blindfolded along with the Huynh brothers. After a while, all three were put inside the van.
Prosecutors have said the Huynh brothers were drug dealers who sold large quantities of marijuana and had a business relationship with Le. They owed Le and his associates $100,000, and that was the motive for the attacks on Voong and the Huynhs, the prosecutors said.
Defense attorney Daniel Conner noted that Voong also sold marijuana and that about two weeks before the attack, Voong was beaten up by two other men in South Philadelphia. Conner maintains that the other two men are responsible for the slayings, not his client.
Le is the only person on trial for the slayings. Authorities have not identified the other suspects.