It's been over a year since we've heard anything about Binh Thai Luc, who has been sitting in prison awaiting trial for the grisly quintuple homicide on Howth Street last March. He made a brief appearance in San Francisco Superior Court Thursday, where a judge delayed the first hearing in his case until July 30. The reason for the delay, according to defense attorneys, is the "sheer amount of evidence to sift through."
Luc is accused of being the sole murderer of three women and two men in a home at 16 Howth Street in the early morning hours of March 23, 2012. The victims were Hua Shun Lei, 65, and Wan Yi Wu, 62, and their adult children, Vincent Lei, 32, and Ying Xue "Jess" Lei, 37, as well as Vincent Lei's wife, Chia Huei Chu, 30. It was one of the worst mass murders in San Francisco history.
Police and prosecutors have not spoken officially of a motive in the crime, however there were many whispers early on in the investigation suggesting that the murders had come as a result of an unpaid gambling debt, possibly incurred by Vincent Lei. The victims were either bludgeoned with a hammer or killed with a "sharp-edged weapon," and according to yesterday's reports, police still have not found the two weapons.
Luc, 36, is a Vietnamese immigrant who had previously spent eight years in prison for robbery and assault with a deadly weapon relating to a 1996 robbery at a San Jose Chinese restaurant. He was released from prison in 2006 and ordered for deportation, however he remained in the country after the Vietnamese government declined to provide some documentation. He was familiar to the Lei family, and had done some plumbing work in the home where the killings took place.
In addition to the murders, Luc is charged with the enhancement of "lying in wait," because it's believe he killed four members of the family after being let into the house on the night of March 22 or the morning of March 23, and then was lying in wait until Vincent Lei returned home. It's believed he likely tortured Vincent Lei, severing his hand, before killing him. (See ABC7's look inside the house, and hear the full chronology, in the video below.)
Luc's trial, which may not begin until the fall at this point, is likely to dominate the local news for a while once it begins.