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Testimony begins in murder trial

Testimony began Monday in the murder trial of a man accused of shooting his friend in September 2010 in a quarrel over money.

When he was arrested, defendant Tony Van reportedly told police that victim Jonathan Pringe was known to carry a knife and that he shot him in self-defense. However, several witnesses took the stand in Clayton County Superior Court Monday and testified that they’d never seen Pringe with a knife outside of a kitchen.

Van, 28, of Morrow is charged with murder and aggravated assault in Pringe’s death. Witness Robert Keovongsa told police that he and the pair had been playing slot machines at the Citgo at Tara Boulevard and Mt. Zion about 6:49 a.m. Sept. 18, 2010.

Keovongsa said Van won $300 and Pringe asked to borrow some of it. Keovongsa told police the request sparked an argument because Pringe already owed Van money.

Pringe, 20, was found shot once in the chest laying in the roadway near Boca Grande Boulevard and Port-A-Prince Drive in Forest Park. He died about two hours later at Southern Regional Medical Center.

Van was found about three days later in Carroll County where he was questioned by officers with the Mount Zion Police Department. Van reportedly told officers he shot Pringe, whom he called “Bung,” in self-defense.

In Judge Matthew Simmons’ courtroom Monday, state witness Christine Ngaoluangrath testified she’d never seen Pringe with a knife and had no knowledge of him being in a gang.