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Poway man to face murder charge in Australia


Last updated 4/11/2019 at 2:17pm

SAN DIEGO - A Poway man already in custody in an unrelated case is scheduled to be sent to Australia on Friday to face a murder charge in connection with the death last year of a Thai national whose battered body was found in Sydney Olympic Park, authorities reported.

Australian detectives traveled to the San Diego area this week to arrange for the extradition of the suspected killer of 33-year-old Wachira "Mario'' Phetmang, who was discovered dead at the site of the 2000 Olympics on the evening of June 6, according to the New South Wales Police Force.

The suspect, identified in court documents as Alex Dion, 38, was jailed in San Diego County on domestic violence allegations on Sept. 6, five days before his arrest in the overseas murder case.

A passing truck driver discovered the body of Phetmang, a hospitality worker who had been living in Australia for a decade, bound, wrapped in plastic and covered with a mattress protector in a patch of roadside shrubbery. The victim had suffered in excess of 20 blunt-force wounds to his head, according to police, who said the last known sighting of Phetmang was at a service

station in South Hurstville two weeks earlier.

Authorities allege that DNA from Dion, who had been working as a tiler at a construction site in Sydney, was found on rope and other bindings tied around the victim's body, and that a boot found at the suspect's U.S. home matched one discovered underneath the corpse.

Investigators believe the fatal bludgeoning took place in late May, just before Dion, a U.S. citizen, left Australia to return to America. Dion allegedly took with him the victim's credit cards -- which he purportedly later tried to use in the United States and Tijuana -- and cell phone.

An affidavit from a New South Wales police detective states that surveillance camera images and mobile phone records show that Dion and the victim were together on May 25, and that cell towers picked up on the suspect's presence two days later in the Homebush Bay area, near where Phetmang's body later turned up.

Additionally, cell phone records allegedly revealed that on the latter date, Dion, also known as Ahmad Arnaout, was in the East Killara suburb, where authorities eventually discovered property belonging to both men.

During a Feb. 14 extradition hearing in San Diego, U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard Skomal ruled that there was "more than ample evidence to establish probable cause'' that Dion murdered Phetmang.

In terms of motive, Australian police officials have stated that they were exploring possible "links to organised (sic) crime and drugs,'' the Sydney Morning Herald reported.


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