SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon told CBS 5 on Tuesday night that he was “unlikely” to seek the death penalty against a man charged with murdering five people last week in a home near City College of San Francisco.

Binh Thai Luc, 35, was arrested over the weekend and formally charged on Tuesday with the grisly killings of three women and two men inside a home at 16 Howth Street in the city’s Ingleside neighborhood

Luc, a San Francisco resident and convicted felon who had previously faced deportation, was set to be arraigned Wednesday on five counts of murder with special circumstances for committing multiple murders — which makes him eligible for capital punishment if convicted.

Gascon told CBS 5 that he would “thoroughly review the details of the case, but it is unlikely I will seek the death penalty.”

The bodies of the victims were discovered by a family member who then called police; the medical examiner’s office has not released their causes of death, but SFPD Chief Greg Suhr has said some type of “edged weapon” was used.

Related Coverage:
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The women victims were previously identified as Wan Yi Xu, 62; Chia Huei Chu, 30; and Ying Xue Lei, 37, and the men were Hua Shun Lei, 65, and Vincent Lei, 32.

Police have said four of the five victims were family members and believe Luc had some sort of relationship with the victims, but investigators declined to elaborate. KCBS cited reports by some media outlets that the five were slain over a gambling debt.

Mayor Ed Lee, speaking Tuesday at an unrelated event, called the killings a “horrible tragedy,” noting that one of the victims, Hua Shun Lei, worked as a chef at R&G Lounge, which he called “one of my favorite restaurants in Chinatown.”

“My heart goes out to that whole family,” he said.

Lee also addressed information revealed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials on Monday indicating that Luc was ordered deported from the country in 2006 after finishing a prison term for a violent robbery a decade earlier.

However, authorities in Luc’s native country of Vietnam declined to provide the appropriate travel documents for his deportation and he ultimately was released from ICE custody after 180 days because of a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court ruling preventing the extended detention of an illegal alien.

Lee said the case shows the need to reform the nation’s immigration policy to provide another alternative in a case like Luc’s.

“There wasn’t anything we could possibly do locally,” he said.

Luc’s brother, Brian Luc, 32, was also arrested over the weekend on unrelated drug and weapons charges.

Police said the investigation into the deaths was ongoing and encouraged anyone with information about the case to call the SFPD’s homicide detail at (415) 553-1451, the anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (20)
  1. tn says:

    With all the financial cuts to the workforce and labor (and bonuses for upper management), it’s usually not until someone dies before anything gets started to change (like our immigration laws). While Cuba sent us their worse criminals, we kept, housed and fed them since we couldn’t give them back. Now it’s the same here in CA. Sad.

  2. John says:

    Mr. Gascon – I’m curious. If the grisly murder of 5 people doesn’t warrant the death penalty – what does? Murdering 6…or maybe 7 ? Maybe if one of the victims was a cop…would that have qualified? It’s a wonder Luc is being prosecuted at all. After all, he’s been the victim of a tough upbringing, right? Maybe some jail time therapy would reform him. Oh wait. He’s apparently already served serious time for armed robbery. Stop wasting our tax dollars – and don’t tell us it costs more to execute someone than imprison them for life. That’s only because the court’s allow endless ridiculous appeals. Here’s a hint. Enlist the judges to help stop this madness. Grow a set and put him out of our misery. PS – Lest anyone think I’m a hater, rest assured, I have tremendous respect for the Vietnamese community who are generally extremely industrious people who place high value on God and family. So don’t misunderstand. It grieves me to take this stance, but clearly, this particular guy is a seriously bad apple.

    1. J says:

      I AGREE, our justice systems is a circus and the people the run our system are clowns. If this senseless killing doesn’t warrant the death penalty, I just don’t know what would qualified ? Maybe the victims have to be of a particular social class or social importance.

    2. Tom says:

      I’m Vietnamese and I think they should stick a needle in his arm and end his worthless life. Doesn’t matter what his ethnicity is, this kind of crime deserves the death penalty. This guy isn’t going to “reform”, he’s not going to contribute to society, he is (and always will be) a festering drain on society.

      1. don says:

        I would agree..

    3. Phillco says:

      The DA is a wimp. When you murder 5 innocent people, death penalty is warranted. At least let the jury decide!

  3. Don says:

    Bleeding heart liberals bound and determined to accentuate chaos and eliminate an orderly society…

    1. s says:

      you are an fking discussing piece of right wing sht just like your suger daddy rush noball

      1. Don says:

        And your a pathetic, useless loser…

      2. TheZip says:

        Classic response from an illiterate liberal who is incapable of putting together a single coherent sentence. No reasoning and no thought behind the spew that boils forth.

        If you can piece together a couple sentences why not put forth your reasons for why you think this person should not get the death penalty. Merely promoting a bunch of venomous hate speech does nothing for any argument you may have.

  4. Larry Z says:

    No surprise here. Cop killers, mass murderers with a long wrap sheet, illegal aliens killing innocent people, it makes no difference. It’s all open season in SF.

    This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Whether it is the President of the U.S., the governor of California, or the district attorney of SF these people elect to pick and choose what laws they want to enforce.

    Must be nice. It’s not like we get to pick and choose what laws we wish to obey and get away with it.

  5. Patrick says:

    this case definitely deserves the death penalty.

  6. s says:

    lets vote Gascon out ..if killing of 5 doesn’t warrant death penalty how many killing will 500people .. this is irresponsible to the victims family ,, we all need to sign an petition to have an voice in this case..

  7. David says:

    So the body count is at least 8 in San Francisco alone just because we have to pander to the illegal immigration special interests. Don’t forget the three (father and two sons) killed by the illegal that had been released instead of deported. Just keep voting for these idiot democrats who will appoint justices to the Supreme Court that will make this type of decision (Zadvydas v. Davis – 533 U.S. 678 (2001). This is hard to comprehend; what insane person would simply release convicted felons onto the street, oh yeah, a democrat.

  8. Spike says:

    Gascon, f u. What has San Francisco voted into the prosecutor’s office?

  9. s says:

    I like to start an recall Gascon for this issue .. will any of you join me .. i think the whole city will love to join us.. enough is enough ..

    can any one of u give suggestion .. please ..

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  11. just another American says:

    I gather that all the news chatter I heard and read that SF is an illegals safe harbor is incorrect? Good luck, I hope you get him out of office. I would love to see Kamala Harris gone as well.

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