SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Closing arguments are set to take place Tuesday in the trial of a man accused of brutally killing five people in San Francisco’s Ingleside neighborhood in 2012.
Binh Thai Luc was tied to the fatal beating, stabbing and choking of five people at 16 Howth St., near City College of San Francisco, by blood and DNA evidence found at the house and in a search of his home and vehicle, according to prosecutor Eric Fleming.
Those killed were identified as Vincent Lei, 32, his father and mother, Hua Shun Lei, 65, and Wan Yi Xu, 62, his wife, Chia Huei Chu, 30, and his sister, Ying Xue Lei, 37.
Luc, a 41-year-old Vietnamese citizen and longtime friend of Vincent Lei who went by the nickname “Ping,” was arrested at a hotel in San Mateo two days after the slayings on March 12, 2012. Police said he was reading an article about the murders when he was found.
Investigators tracked him down after witnesses told police that on the night of the killing that Vincent received a call while he was out with friends from his wife, telling him that “Ping” wanted to speak with him.
Prosecutors believe that by the time Vincent got home, Luc had already killed the rest of his family and was lying in wait for him.
The bodies were discovered by a 12-year-old family member in the morning.
Investigators found extensive evidence of efforts to clean up the crime scene and obscure evidence, including pools of standing water, bottles of bleach and Windex and paint and shampoo splashed on and around the bodies of Vincent and Ying Xue.
The murder weapons were never located.
Luc has been charged with burglary and robbery in the case, and prosecutors say at the time of his arrest he was found with nearly $7,000 in cash.
However, defense attorney Mark Goldrosen has said that Luc has evidence showing that he acquired that cash from other sources and was not found with any items from the house in his possession.
The house showed no signs of having been robbed or ransacked, Goldrosen said.
Luc also did not have the kind of extensive injuries that might be expected from a struggle with five people.
Instead, Goldrosen said Luc had a good relationship with Vincent, who occasionally helped him pick up work, and a well-paid job as a plumber’s apprentice, leaving any possible motive unclear.
While early statements from investigators led to speculation that a gambling debt might have led to the killings, Fleming did not offer that as a motive during the trial’s opening statements.
Luc’s arrest led to some controversy after it was learned that he had been set to be deported in 2006 but stayed in the country because Vietnamese officials failed to provide travel documents for him.
He had previously been sentenced in 1998 to more than 11 years in state prison after pleading no contest to assault, firearm and robbery charges in Santa Clara County, according to court records.
Immigration officials took him into custody and a judge ordered his removal in 2006, but Vietnamese authorities declined to provide the necessary documents.
He was ultimately released after 180 days because of a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court ruling preventing extended detention.
Immigration officials at the time said he had continued to report to them as required after his release and was not arrested again between 2006 and 2012.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has since lodged another immigration detainer for him.
Luc remains in custody and is being held without bail. Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Tuesday morning.
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