A Vietnamese illegal alien faces life in prison after he was convicted Monday of slaughtering a family of five Chinese immigrants in their Ingleside neighborhood home in 2012.
Binh Thai Luc was also found guilty of five counts of attempted robbery and two counts of burglary, stemming from the March 23, 2012, deaths of Hua Shun Lei, 65; his wife, Wan Yi Wu, 62; their daughter, Ying Xue Lei, 37; their son, Vincent Lei, 32; and his wife, Chia Huei Chu, 30.
The incident occurred when Luc planned a burglary, that subsequently spiraled into murder, after the 41-year-old San Francisco plumber had reportedly been on a losing streak at a local casino, and faced eviction for failure to pay his rent.
Luc already had a criminal record before the murders. U.S. federal immigration authorities released Luc into the community in 2006 after he had spent a decade in prison for robbery and assault with a deadly weapon for the 1996 armed robbery of a Chinese restaurant.
SF Gate reports on the gruesome 2012 murder of the family of five:
Prosecutors said Luc used a hammer to commit one of the worst mass homicides in modern San Francisco history, though the weapon was never found. The defendant was also found guilty of five counts of attempted robbery and two counts of burglary.
The victims’ bludgeoned bodies were found covered in blood and household cleaning products in various rooms of the row house on Howth Street, which had been flooded with water.
Police arrested Luc shortly after the killings at a hotel in San Mateo, where investigators found him reading an article in The Chronicle about the crime on his computer, prosecutors said.
“This was a very gruesome, brutal murder, and we’re pleased we’re getting some accountability for the family and for the community,” District Attorney George Gascón said.
According to the report, Vincent Lei’s 12-year-old niece discovered the scene and ran out of the home, screaming, “Mommy, bodies! Bodies!” After making the terrible discovery, the girl’s mother, Nicole Lei, told someone with whom she was on the phone: “They took the money! The money is gone!”
While authorities didn’t have an eyewitness to place Luc at the scene of the crime, Assistant District Attorney Eric Fleming used numerous pieces of physical evidence to link Luc to the killings.
Investigators said Vincent Lei’s blood was spattered on Luc’s jeans, which were discovered at his home.
Inside the Lei home, crime scene technicians reported finding Luc’s blood on a pack of cigarettes, a receipt and a cabinet drawer.
Luc had a cut on his hand when he was arrested shortly after the crime.
Police also found a fingerprint on a bottle of window cleaner inside the home that matched Luc’s right index finger, prosecutors said.
The bodies were covered with bleach and other products, and the killer flooded the home by turning on faucets and detaching pipes under sinks.
When he was arrested, he had $6,518 in cash. Prosecutors said the Lei family kept thousands of dollars in the home, and that Luc knew Vincent Lei from local mah-jongg games.
Luc’s defense attorney, Mark Goldrosen, says that while prosecutors worked to prove that Luc was present in the house, they failed to prove he had anything to do with the murders.
Luc faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
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