A man accused of killing five people at a home in San Francisco’s Ingleside neighborhood last month pleaded not guilty today to multiple murder charges.
Binh Thai Luc, 35, is accused of killing three women and two men at a home at 16 Howth St. near City College of San Francisco on March 23.
He was arrested two days later and charged with five counts of murder, as well as special circumstances alleging multiple murders, committing murder in the commission of robbery and burglary, using a blunt instrument to kill the victims, and lying in wait before killing one of the victims, Vincent Lei, 32.
The medical examiner’s office has identified the other man killed as 65-year-old Hua Shun Lei and the women as Wan Yi Xu, 62, Chia Huei Chu, 30, and Ying Xue Lei, 37.
Luc shook his head repeatedly as the charges against him were read by Judge Samuel Feng this morning. It took about 15 minutes for the judge to read all the charges.
Luc, appearing in court in handcuffs and a red jail jumpsuit, only spoke briefly, saying “not guilty” and “deny” to the various counts against him.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Sharon Woo asked the judge to order Luc held on $25 million bail “given the circumstances of the defendant’s allegations and his prior criminal history.”
Mark Goldrosen, the private attorney representing Luc, did not oppose the amount. Luc was previously being held without bail because of a federal immigration hold against him.
Luc will return to court on May 3 for a status conference and to set a preliminary hearing date.
Police and prosecutors have not released a possible motive for the murders, nor what blunt instrument Luc allegedly used in the grisly killings.
Goldrosen said outside of court that he has not yet received any evidence from the prosecution.
“I have very little information about the case,” he said. “I’m hoping by next week I’ll have more information about what they’re alleging.”
The special allegations accompanying the murder charges make Luc eligible for the death penalty, although prosecutors have said it is not likely they will seek capital punishment.
Goldrosen said because of the potential death penalty and the complexity of the case, he expects to ask for a second attorney to assist him.
Public Defender Jeff Adachi stood in the back of the courtroom during this morning’s hearing.
During Luc’s initial appearances in court last week, Adachi sought to have the public defender’s office represent him.
Prosecutors objected, saying there was a conflict of interest because the public defender’s office previously represented Luc’s brother, Brian Luc, in a DUI and firearm case last year.
A judge sided with the prosecution and appointed Goldrosen, a private attorney who is part of a panel that handles cases in which the public defender has a conflict of interest.
Adachi has filed a petition for a writ to allow his office to represent Luc. That petition is still pending, and Adachi plans to appeal to the state Court of Appeal if it is denied.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News