Witnesses: Dad on Ala. bridge when 4 kids tossed off
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - One man testified that he thought the man on trial for capital murder was simply tossing a bundle of garbage off an Alabama coastal bridge.
Another witness testified Tuesday he thought the man beside a parked van might jump from the bridge's highest point into the Mississippi Sound -- but didn't intervene.
Witnesses testified at Lam Luong's capital murder trial in Mobile that they were unaware when they drove across the Dauphin Island bridge on Jan. 7, 2008 that the defendant in the courtroom Tuesday was -- as prosecutors charge -- tossing four children to their deaths in waters 80 feet below.
Prosecution witness Jeff Coolidge says he was driving across the bridge about 9 a.m. when he noticed a man toss a bundle over the side railing.
He pointed to Luong in the courtroom as that man.
Says Coolidge: "I thought it was a bag of garbage."
Coolidge said he stopped to admonish the man for littering, but decided against it when he spotted three children in the van.
That bundle apparently was the first victim.
Coolidge contacted police the next day when he heard about the missing children.
Construction worker Frank Collier also identified Luong as being on the bridge when Collier said he drove past Luong's parked van that same morning.
Collier said Luong was straddling the concrete barrier on the bridge.
Says Collier: "I thought he was going to jump."
Collier didn't intervene.
Another motorist, Alton Knight, said he thought the van had broken down.
He saw only one child, a dark-haired girl with hair in pigtails.
He said the sliding door of the van was open.
Luong is accused of throwing Hannah Luong, 2, Ryan Phan, 3, Lindsey Luong, 1, and Danny Luong, 4 months, into the cold Mississippi Sound after arguing with his common-law wife, Kieu Phan.
Ryan was fathered by another man but the others were their children.
Luong, a 38-year-old Vietnamese refugee, admitted killing the children in one statement, but later recanted to Bayou La Batre police within days, reverting to his initial story that an Asian woman named Kim took the children, according to authorities.
The four tiny bodies were recovered from waters off the Gulf coast during a search involving hundreds of volunteers in boats, aircraft and scouring the shoreline on foot.
Prosecutors said they will seek a death sentence if Luong is convicted.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)