IPSWICH — The popular owner of an Ipswich restaurant who was killed in an attempted robbery last September spent his final moments trying, with bound wrists and ankles, to open his safe, as he was repeatedly struck with a crowbar and poked with a knife, one suspect told police.
Shui Keung "Tony" Woo, 62, collapsed, and his assailants never got into the safe inside the Majestic Dragon, according to court documents filed in the case against his alleged killers. Employees arriving for work the next day found Woo in a pool of blood, dead from blunt-force trauma.
Yesterday, a Salem Superior Court judge granted a request by prosecutors seeking permission to obtain DNA samples from the three men charged in Woo's murder, Sifa Lee, Cheng Sun and Jun Di Lin. Investigators have already created Lin's DNA profile from a cigarette butt he'd discarded, matching it to a Red Sox hat found at the crime scene.
That was just one piece of a trail of evidence investigators say the three left behind, including GPS "breadcrumbs" left by the credit-card machine inside the Boston Cab Associates taxi that the suspects used to get to the restaurant and then to the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos in Connecticut.
Investigators want to compare the DNA from the three men to DNA found in bloodstains at the scene and elsewhere.
Two days after the killing, a lawyer for Lin, 29, of Malden, who had been using the cab at the time, contacted the district attorney's office, negotiating the terms of a statement Lin would subsequently give.
Just days later, on Oct. 11, Lin would be arrested at the Canadian border, trying to leave the United States with nearly $4,500 and a cellphone missing its SIM card so that it could not be easily traced.
That was a day after crime-scene investigators had matched DNA found on a bloody Red Sox cap left in the restaurant to DNA found on a cigarette Lin had smoked and then discarded on Oct. 7 while he was under surveillance.
Lin's cellphone records also showed a series of calls in the early morning hours of Sept. 27 between Lin and a man later identified as Lee.
Lin told investigators that he got a call from a friend he knew as "Ato" asking to meet him in Boston. He picked up his cab, then picked up Ato, later identified as Sun, 47, of New York, and "AK," later identified as Lee, 34, of Quincy.
He said they told him to drive to the Kowloon, a Chinese restaurant on Route 1, but that as they approached, they told him to keep going. Eventually, Lin said, they told him to stop as they approached the Majestic Dragon.
Lin said he smoked a cigarette and waited for the other two men, who soon returned holding a crowbar and a knife. The three then allegedly went into the restaurant through a skylight.
Investigators believe that the men had used wire cutters to cut burglar alarm lines to the restaurant before going inside.
Inside, Sun and Lee seemed to know that someone was sleeping inside the restaurant, according to investigators. Woo, who lived in Quincy, often spent the night at the restaurant rather than make the long drive to the South Shore.
They walked to the back of the restaurant, where Lee allegedly began hitting Woo with a crowbar and demanded that he open the safe, as Lin tied him up with electrical cords.
Lin told police that he tried to shield Woo as Lee kept hitting him with a crowbar and Sun poked him with a knife.
After Woo collapsed, they dragged him away from the safe, now covered in blood, and climbed back through the skylight, then headed to the casinos, according to investigators.
Woo's DNA was found in blood on the ball cap, along with Lin's — and an as-yet-unidentified third person.
Prosecutor Kristen Buxton said she wants to compare the DNA profiles of the three suspects to blood swabs, a long knife, wire cutters and bloody, discarded clothing found at the restaurant, as well as clothing and other items found in Connecticut, where one of the men bought new clothing and discarded other items.
Lin's attorney, Frank Santisi, argued against the request for a DNA sample, saying prosecutors already have his client's DNA profile from the cigarette butt. A second lawyer, Michael Phelan, who represents Sun, also objected, suggesting that there's an insufficient connection between his client and evidence the investigators want to test.
Lee's lawyer, Lawrence McGuire, meanwhile, did not object, acknowledging that case law in Massachusetts gives Buxton the right to seek the DNA under the circumstances.
"My intuitive sense is that the motion should be allowed," Judge Howard Whitehead said after hearing the arguments, noting his familiarity with the case law. But the judge waited to rule until after he had read the filings by both Buxton and the defense lawyers.
The three are due back in court April 12 to have samples taken.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis may be reached at 978-338-2521 or firstname.lastname@example.org.