-By Bay City News
More than a decade after the body of a Diablo Valley College student turned up in the Nevada desert, a preliminary hearing began in Richmond today for the man accused of killing her.
Raymond Wong, 41, formerly of Pinole, appeared in Contra Costa County Superior Court Wednesday, a year after pleading not guilty to murder charges in the 1999 killing of 21-year-old Alice Sin, his live-in girlfriend and son's mother.
In addition to the murder charge, Wong is also charged with the special circumstance allegation that he killed Sin for financial gain. According to police, the defendant fled the United States for China and re-entered the country on Dec. 19, 2011, at San Francisco International Airport using a fake passport.
Customs officers alerted Pinole police, who amassed enough evidence over the next few days to arrest Wong on suspicion of murder in Pinole on Christmas Eve.
This morning, Judge Patricia Scanlon heard from law enforcement officers who helped shed light on the events surrounding the young mother's slaying. Napa police Officer Peter Piersig, who worked as a Pinole police officer at the time of Sin's murder, recalled on the witness stand how Wong called police on Nov. 22, 1999, to report that Sin had gone missing the day before.
Piersig said Wong reported that Sin, a student at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, had left their shared home at 3229 Estates Drive the previous morning, possibly to study. When asked, Wong told the officer that he and Sin had not been fighting and said that she had been acting normal.
But police and prosecutors believe that Wong murdered Sin for financial gain in Nevada shortly before Wong reported her missing. Police said during their initial investigation that it appeared Wong was the beneficiary of a life insurance policy Sin had applied for. Her remains were discovered two months later off of a remote roadway in rural Churchill County, Nev.
The decomposed corpse was found with four bullet wounds and was surrounded by shell casings, according to police. While Wong was immediately identified as a person of interest in the case, police were initially unable to link him to the murder.
According to testimony today, the defendant relocated to Canada a short time after Sin went missing, where he was hired to do some computer work for a local business.
Today, Colin Adair, a police officer from Calgary, Canada, described how a co-worker of Wong's called in late January 2000 to report that the California transplant had been "acting very strange" at work. Wong reportedly told a co-worker that his wife had gone missing, that her body had recently been found and that he was a suspect in her murder.
He also reportedly told his co-worker that he had been consulting with his lawyer, Adair testified. In early February, police in Calgary set up surveillance on Wong, who was staying in a local hotel. Adair testified that surveillance images from that time show the defendant with a young woman.
Near the end of February 2000, Wong left Canada on a flight headed to San Francisco, the officer testified this morning. The defendant is set to return to court next week as the preliminary hearing continues.
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