A quintuple murder trial began winding down in San Francisco Superior Court Tuesday as a prosecutor told the jury that a 41-year-old man was responsible for the "horrific" slayings of five members of a family in their Ingleside District home in 2012.
"His DNA and his blood were all over the house," Assistant District Attorney Eric Fleming said in his closing argument in the trial of Binh Thai Luc. "He was guilty of wiping out that family."
But defense attorney Mark Goldrosen, while conceding that Luc, of San Francisco, was present in the house at some point, contended "he was not responsible for their deaths."
He told the jury there was no evidence of a motive for Luc or of a robbery, and suggested the murders might have been carried out by gangland-style enforcers.
"Nothing in the evidence would link Mr. Luc to this type of killing. Do not simply rubber-stamp a conviction without evaluating the evidence," Goldrosen urged the jurors.
The case is expected to go to the jury Wednesday following the completion of Goldrosen's closing argument and a prosecution rebuttal.
Luc is a Vietnamese citizen who works as a plumber and was a longtime friend of one of the victims, Vincent Lei, 32.
The trial in the Hall of Justice courtroom of Superior Court Judge Carol Yaggy began on Oct. 10.
The five victims, whose bodies were found in four different areas of the house, were Vincent Lei; his parents, Hua Shun Lei, 65, and Wan Yi Xu, 62; his wife, Chia Huei Chu, 30; and his sister, Ying Xue Lei, 37.
They were slain in the night of March 22-23, 2012, by being bludgeoned and stabbed, possibly with the blunt and claw ends of a hammer, and, in the case of Vincent Lei, strangled.
Fleming said "desperate" efforts were made to destroy and cover up evidence with bleach, Windex and flooding caused by dismantling of plumbing fixtures. As a plumber, Luc would have known how to disconnect the fixtures, Fleming noted.
Luc's blood was found in several places in the house, including inside a drawer of papers, and a fingerprint of his was found on a Windex bottle. Vincent Lei's blood was found on Luc's blue jeans and on the driver's seatbelt in Luc's car, Fleming told the jury.
Fleming said the prosecution doesn't have to prove a motive, but suggested that a motive could have been robbery of cash, which he said may have come from alleged marijuana dealings by some family members.
On the day of the murders, Fleming said, Luc's bank balance was $1.01 and he had recently lost money gambling at Artichoke Joe's casino in San Bruno. A week before the murders, Luc and his mother received a 14-day eviction notice for nonpayment of rent.
But on the night of the murders, Luc gave his mother $1,000 for the rent. When Luc was arrested on March 25, after the location of his phone was traced to the San Mateo motel where he was staying, he was found to be in possession of another $6,500.
The victims' bodies were discovered at about 7:45 a.m. on March 23, when Nicole Lei, another sister of Vincent Lei, stopped by the house so her 12-year-old daughter could pick up an item she needed for school.
The child ran back out of the house, telling her mother, "There are bodies," Fleming said.
The prosecutor said that before calling 911, Nicole Lei called her husband at 7:44 a.m. A teacher at a nearby high school testified that as he was walking on the street at that time, he heard a woman shouting on her phone, "They took the money!"
Goldrosen noted that the phone records showed that Nicole Lei's call to her husband lasted only 11 seconds and said there was no proof that she was the woman heard shouting.
He said Luc had a consistent pattern of keeping his bank balance low and could have been saving up cash from unrecorded winnings at the casino. He said the claim of a robbery was contradicted by the fact that a total of about $3,000 belonging to the victims was left in their wallets and other locations in the house.
The evidence "strongly suggests there was more than one person involved" in the killings, Goldrosen also claimed.
Fleming said, however, that even if another person participated, Luc could still be held responsible for all the murders as an aider and abettor.
"Whether you did the crime by yourself or with someone else, you are still guilty," he said.
Luc, who is being held in pretrial custody without bail, appeared in court Tuesday with two black eyes apparently incurred in jail.
Yaggy told the jurors the injury was "not related to any misconduct with the sheriff's deputies" and said, "You are to give it no consideration."