District Attorney

Posted on: December 14, 2016

Hempstead Man Sentenced to 20 Years to Life in Prison for 2011 Murder of Girlfriend

Dung Tran shot 62-year old victim in Lynbrook parking lot


MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a Hempstead man was sentenced today to 20 years to life in prison for murdering a 62-year old woman he was dating after she discovered that he was stealing from her.


Dung Tran, 44, of Hempstead, pleaded guilty before Acting Supreme Court Justice Christopher Quinn to murder in the 2nd degree (an A-I felony) on Oct. 18. The NCDA recommended a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.


“This defendant brutally murdered a 62-year-old grandmother after he exploited her financially and emotionally for months,” said DA Singas. “No sentence can bring back Maria Ayala to her family and friends, but I hope they can take some comfort knowing that this despicable predator will be behind bars for many years.”


DA Singas said that Tran met victim Maria Ayala when he was staying at the Capri Motor Lodge, where Ayala was working as a maid. The defendant routinely lied to people and told them that he was a sergeant in the U.S. military and was known by the nickname “Sergeant Doug.”


Tran, who was approximately 24-years younger than Ayala, dated the woman for several months and just before her murder had cashed a check that Ayala received from the Internal Revenue Service without her permission.


Ayala, a native of El Salvador, was taking care of her grandchildren on the night of April 30, 2011, when she asked a neighbor to briefly watch them so that she could go to the grocery store. The victim, however, was planning to meet with Tran that evening. Family members called police when she failed to return home that night.


Tran shot Ayala once in the head as she was seated in her 1991 Toyota Corolla in a parking lot on Merrick Road. A Lynbrook police officer discovered her body the following morning.


That day officers from the Nassau County Police Department, based on a tip from Ayala’s family, went to interview Tran at his Hempstead apartment. When they arrived, Tran was climbing out of a window and had Ayala’s credit cards and jewelry in his possession. The defendant told the officers that he routinely climbs out the window.


Police officers later discovered the murder weapon and other identification cards belonging to Ayala in Tran’s mattress.


Tran was charged with murder in the 2nd degree (an A-I felony), two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the 2nd degree (a C violent felony) and grand larceny in the 3rd degree (a D felony). Tran’s plea was in satisfaction of the entire indictment. His case was expected to start trial just before he pleaded guilty.


Tran was the subject of two mental competency exams since his arrest. In both cases he was found competent to stand trial.


 Assistant District Attorney Ania Pulaski of DA Singas’ Major Offense Bureau prosecuted the case. Tran is represented by Christopher Devane, Esq.

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