2012 Ingleside, San Francisco homicide

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Ingleside, San Francisco homicides
Location San Francisco, California, United States
Coordinates 37°43′22″N 122°27′00″W / 37.722694°N 122.449965°W / 37.722694; -122.449965
Date March 23, 2012
Attack type
Mass murder
Deaths 5
Suspected perpetrator
Binh Thai Luc

Five people were found dead at a home in San Francisco's Ingleside neighborhood, on the morning of Friday, March 23, 2012. Police initially believed the case to be a murder-suicide, but two days later arrested a man identified as 35-year-old San Francisco resident Binh Thai Luc, and charged him with five counts of murder. The deaths were initially thought to be caused by gunshot wounds, but police ruled that out and instead stated that the deaths were from blunt force. The motive is still under investigation.

Details[edit]

Killings[edit]

At approximately 7:45 am PST on March 23, 2012, three people were found dead inside a row house with the address of 16 Howth Street, located in the Ingleside district of San Francisco, near San Francisco City College. The bodies were discovered by an adult daughter of the elder slain couple.[1] Police arrived and found two more bodies in the house's backyard. A neighbor said that she heard a "loud male person angry or yelling at around midnight" the night prior to the morning the bodies were found, but did not hear any gunshots. The five victims were all immigrants from China and were related to each other; among the dead was 37-year-old Yingxue "Jess" Lei, 37, the owner of the house. Investigators said that the victims suffered from blunt trauma, and ruled out gunshot wounds as the cause of death. Police believe an "edged weapon" was involved in the slayings.[2][3][4][5] News reports speculated that the killings were motivated by an attempt to collect on gambling debts; investigators declined to comment on that theory.[6]

Arrest[edit]

While an intense investigation was being executed following the occurrence of the homicides, SWAT teams carried out search warrants in San Francisco and in neighboring San Mateo County to locate the suspect. On Sunday, March 25, 2012, San Francisco Police announced that they arrested 35-year-old Binh Thai Luc, a San Francisco man, and charged him with five counts of murder in connection with the five bodies found in the home.[5] Luc has an extensive criminal record, and his younger brother, 32-year-old Brian Luc, also a San Francisco resident, was arrested the same day as his brother on unrelated charges of drugs and ammunition possession and violation of probation. Binh Thai Luc is reported to have known all five of his victims.[7] The Luc brothers are both identified as being affiliated with a Vietnamese street gang.[1]

Victims[edit]

The five victims, all Chinese immigrants, were related to each other:[7]

  • Hua Shun Lei, 65 (husband)
  • Wan Yi Xi, 62 (wife)
  • Vincent Lei, 32 (son)
  • Chia Huei Chu, 30 (girlfriend of Vincent Lei)
  • Yingxue "Jess" Lei, 37 (daughter); she was employed as a software engineer for Quantitative Medical Systems, Inc., in the East Bay city of Emeryville[8]

Hearings and trial[edit]

Legal representation[edit]

At the San Francisco County Superior Court on March 29, 2012 before Judge Lucy McCabe, Chief Assistant District Attorney Sharon Woo argued that there existed a potential conflict of interest if Luc were represented by the Public Defender's office, as the office had previously represented Luc's brother Brian Luc, who was a potential witness. Public Defender Jeff Adachi argued that this was not relevant as his office no longer represented Brian Luc, but McCabe sided with Woo, and so Binh Thai Luc's defense was handed over to private attorney Mark Goldrosen.[9] Separately, the public defender's office filed an appeal from McCabe's decision not to permit it to represent Luc. The matter came before Judge Newton Lam, who on April 10 denied the appeal; reports at the time suggested that Adachi was likely to appeal again to the California Court of Appeals.[10]

Possibility of death penalty[edit]

District Attorney George Gascón stated in late March 2012 that he probably would not seek the death penalty, though Luc might be eligible due to special circumstance enhancements.[9] A poll conducted by CBS affiliate KPIX-TV around the same time found that 56% of San Francisco residents thought the government should pursue the death penalty in its case against Luc, while 33% were opposed and 11% unsure.[11] When interviewed again on the matter in late April 2012, Gascón stated that the special circumstances committee (composed of senior homicide prosecutors) was still awaiting sufficient evidence before making the final decision.[12]

Hearings[edit]

Luc was arraigned on the five charges of murder before Judge Samuel Feng of the San Francisco County Superior Court on April 5, 2012. He pleaded not guilty to all charges, but otherwise did not speak. His bail was set at $25 million, and his next court appearance was set for May 3 at which time a hearing date would be decided.[13][14] In late June 2012, Luc's brother was sentenced on unrelated drug charges.[15]

Luc appeared in court again on July 20, 2012. He continued to be represented by Mark Goldrosen. Feng announced that Luc's trial would be held on October 25, and then adjourned the hearing. Goldrosen explained the delay by stating that the investigation was still ongoing and that both the prosecution and the defense needed time to review witness statements and evidence. He also stated that his Luc was in good health and had received a visit from his parents.[16] By January 2013, Luc's case had still not gone to trial. A pre-trial hearing held before Judge Jerome Benson on January 15 resulted only in another court date being set for March 19, nearly a year after the date of the murders, because a police report was not yet complete.[17] At the hearing on March 19, Judge Benson had been expected to set a date for a preliminary hearing, but instead defense lawyers again stated that they needed more time to review evidence, and so the hearing was set to continue on May 3.[18][19] In Luc's court appearance on May 30, the preliminary hearing was again delayed until July 30.[20]

By December 2013, the preliminary hearing still had not been held; in Luc's court appearance that month, the judge set the new date for the preliminary hearing to February 14, 2014.[21] Luc then appeared in court on April 11, 2014, where Goldrosen again requested an extension; Luc's next court appearance will be on June 18, 2014.[22][23]

Deportation issues[edit]

Binh Thai Luc was previously convicted for a string of armed robberies in 1996 in San Jose, and after finishing his prison sentence in 2006 was taken into U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody pending deportation. However, he could not be deported because the government of Vietnam refused to issue a travel document to allow him to be admitted.[24] Under the United States' 2008 repatriation agreement with Vietnam, Vietnam is only obligated to accept deportees who arrived in the U.S. after the 1995 resumption of relations.[25] University of San Francisco law professor Bill Hing stated that this restriction exists because the Vietnamese government feels that Vietnamese who went to the U.S. before that date – primarily refugees from communism – are "products of the United States", and their criminal acts are not Vietnam's responsibility.[26] Due to the 2001 Supreme Court ruling in Zadvydas v. Davis, Luc could not be detained indefinitely either, and eventually had to be released from ICE custody.[27]

Four Republican politicians responded to the news of Luc's arrest with calls to pass legislation addressing the situation. Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wrote a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on June 1 expressing concerns about Luc and other foreign nationals who had been ordered deported but continued to live freely in the United States due to Zadvydas v. Davis, and inquiring whether she would support legislation to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 to authorize detention of deportees beyond six months.[28] Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) gave floor speeches on March 27 and July 10 calling for the passage of the Deport Foreign Convicted Criminals Act (H.R. 3256) he had introduced on October 25, 2011, which provides for denial of immigrant and non-immigrant visas to nationals of countries which "refused or unreasonably delayed repatriation" of deportees; in each speech, he referred to Luc and stated that Vietnam and other countries "who fail to take back their lawfully deported criminals" should face consequences.[29][30] He further brought up Luc's case in remarks to Napolitano on July 19 when she appeared before the House Committee on the Judiciary.[31] Finally, in June 2013, Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) moved S.Amdt. 1203 to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 to authorize detention of deportees beyond six months when their countries of citizenship refused to readmit them, and gave a floor speech on June 20, 2013 in which he mentioned Luc's case several times as justification.[32]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Roman, Tomas. "Police arrest suspect in SF mass slaying". KGO-TV. Retrieved March 25, 2012. 
  2. ^ Coté, John. "S.F. police probe grim scene at home where 5 slain". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved March 25, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Police arrest suspect in killing of 5 in SF home". Associated Press. Retrieved March 25, 2012. 
  4. ^ Burke, Garance (March 25, 2012). "Five Found Dead in San Francisco". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 24, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Allday, Erin. "S.F. man arrested in gruesome slayings of 5 in Ingleside". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved March 25, 2012. 
  6. ^ Po, Vivian (March 29, 2012). "San Francisco Murder of Five Spotlights Asian Gambling Addiction". AsianWeek. Retrieved 2012-10-25. 
  7. ^ a b "SFPD: Arrest made in brutal Howth St slayings". KTVU. Retrieved March 25, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Binh Thai Luc, suspect in SF murders, faced deportation to Vietnam in 2006". CBS News Crime Insider. March 27, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-05. 
  9. ^ a b "Judge Rules Public Defender Can’t Represent Suspect in SF Ingleside Massacre". CBS San Francisco. March 29, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-05. 
  10. ^ "SFPD Holds Neighborhood Meetings on Ingleside Killings". CBS San Francisco. April 10, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-05. 
  11. ^ "SF Favors Death Penalty For Ingleside Massacre Suspect". CBS 5 News. March 28, 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-24. 
  12. ^ Tyler, Carolyn (April 30, 2012). "George Gascon talks SF hot topics with ABC7". KGO-TV. Retrieved 2012-05-05. 
  13. ^ Huet, Ellen (April 6, 2012). "S.F. mass slayings defendant pleads not guilty". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-05-05. 
  14. ^ "Binh Thai Luc Held on $25 Million Bail". NBC Bay Area. April 5, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-05. 
  15. ^ "Brother of San Francisco Massacre Suspect Sentenced on Drug Charges", CBS News, June 19, 2012, retrieved 2012-06-23 
  16. ^ 胡健宏 (July 21, 2012). "雷氏五屍案被告陸平泰提堂排期10月審". Sing Tao Daily. Retrieved 2012-08-03. 
  17. ^ 黄伟江 (January 16, 2013). "五尸案初级聆讯押后至3月". Sing Tao Daily. Retrieved 2013-01-23. 
  18. ^ "Hearing in case of 5 slain in SF continued". KTVU News. 2013-03-19. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 
  19. ^ "三藩市5尸案提堂 5月3日审". Sing Tao Daily. 2013-03-20. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 
  20. ^ McMenamin, Dan (2013-05-30). "Triple Slaying, Quintuple Homicide Intersect In San Francisco Courtroom". The San Francisco Appeal. Archived from the original on 2013-06-22. Retrieved 2013-06-17. 
  21. ^ "三藩市五屍命案 疑兇輕鬆出庭不時微笑". Sina News. 2013-12-07. Retrieved 2014-03-19. 
  22. ^ "五屍命案提堂 聆訊延至4月". Sing Tao Daily. 2014-02-15. Retrieved 2014-03-19. 
  23. ^ "五屍滅門案提堂 辯方再請押后". Sing Tao Daily. 2014-04-12. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  24. ^ "Slaying suspect charged, records show a violent past". KTVU 2 NEws. March 27, 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-25. 
  25. ^ "Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on the acceptance of the return of Vietnamese citizens". state.gov. Retrieved 2012-04-25. 
  26. ^ "Closer Look: SF Massacre Prompts Review Of Vietnamese Immigration Policies". CBS News. March 30, 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-22. 
  27. ^ Fagan, Kevin (March 28, 2012). "S.F. suspect not alone in dodging deportation". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-04-25. 
  28. ^ "Grassley-Smith letter to Napolitano re: Zadvydas cases". grassley.senate.gov. June 1, 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-25. 
  29. ^ "Take Your Criminal Outlaws Back". Congressional Record. 2012-03-37. p. H1629. Retrieved 2012-10-25. 
  30. ^ "Take Your Criminals Back". Congressional Record. July 10, 2012. p. H4689. Retrieved 2012-10-25. 
  31. ^ "Hearing before the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, Second Session". Government Printing Office. July 19, 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-25. 
  32. ^ "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act". June 20, 2013. p. S4733. Retrieved 2014-03-19.