SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A man whose brother is accused of killing five people in San Francisco’s Ingleside neighborhood last month was ordered Thursday to stand trial on unrelated drug and weapons charges.
Brian Luc, 32, was taken into custody the same day police arrested his brother, Binh Thai Luc, 35, on suspicion of killing three women and two men at a home at 16 Howth St. near City College of San Francisco on March 23.
On March 25, police serving a search warrant at a house where the Luc brothers lived together on Hayes Street encountered Brian Luc and found about 28 grams of powder cocaine and two rounds of ammunition, prosecutors said.
Brian Luc was arrested at the home, while Binh Thai Luc was taken into custody at a separate location in San Mateo County, according to police.
The homicide victims have been identified as Wan Yi Xu, 62; Chia Huei Chu, 30; Ying Xue Lei, 37; Hua Shun Lei, 65; and Vincent Lei, 32.
No new details about the murders came out at Brian Luc’s preliminary hearing Thursday morning, in which prosecutors alleged that he intended to sell the cocaine that was in his possession.
However, his attorney Brendan Conroy noted that police did not find any other drug paraphernalia, such as scales or small baggies, at the home.
Judge Samuel Feng agreed with the defense, concluding that Brian Luc may have merely chosen to buy the cocaine in bulk.
“I hate to use the Costco analogy,” Feng said. “But if you buy bulk, it’s cheaper.”
The judge reduced the cocaine charge to simple possession rather than possession with the intent to sell, and ordered Luc held on other charges including possession of ammunition as a convicted felon. He was convicted last August of DUI and discharging a firearm.
Brian Luc remains in custody without bail because his probation was revoked after his arrest.
Prosecutors have indicated that they intend to use him as a witness in his brother’s murder case, but Conroy said outside of court that the district attorney’s office has not yet reached out to him.
Brian Luc is expected to return to court on May 3, the same day Binh Luc is set to return for a status conference and to set a preliminary hearing date in the murder case. Binh Thai Luc remains in jail in lieu of $25 million bail.
Police and prosecutors have not yet disclosed a possible motive for the killings but said Binh Luc is believed to have known at least one of the victims.
Police Chief Greg Suhr said last week that investigators are still looking for two weapons believed to have been used in the murders: a blunt weapon and an edged one.
Along with the murder charges, prosecutors filed special-circumstance allegations against Binh Luc because they said the murders were committed in the commission of a robbery and burglary, and that Binh Luc was lying in wait before killing Vincent Lei.
The special circumstances make Luc eligible for the death penalty, although prosecutors have indicated they will likely not seek capital punishment.
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