It's been almost four years since Barry White, then 23, allegedly walked into the Jewelry Mart in SoMa to dispute a purchase for which he thought he had overpaid and ended up killing two people and severely injuring another, and the case is just now going to trial. As the Examiner reports, his defense attorney is accusing the prosecution of intimidating one of the defense's expert witnesses, an out-of-state forensic psychologist who is set to testify as to White's mental condition at the time of the killings.
The brutal murders at the Gift Center and Jewelry Mart the wholesale jewelry marketplace that is housed in the same building that is now home to Airbnb's corporate offices at 888 Brannan were captured on video and called by District Attorney George Gascon "one of the most calculating, most brutal homicides" he had ever seen at the time. White allegedly walked into Victoga Inc., one of the stores inside the Jewelry Mart, on a Friday afternoon to dispute the price he paid for a piece of a jewelry, seeking a refund of around $300. White argued with store owner Vic Hung, and at one point asked for change to feed a parking meter. White left the store and returned armed with a revolver and a folding knife. He allegedly waited for some other customers to leave the store before he approached Hung again and shot him three times, along with store employee Lina Lim, 51. Another employee, 35-year-old Khin Min, ran at White in a panic, and he allegedly tried to shoot her but had run out of bullets, so he sliced her throat, nearly decapitating her.
Remarkably, Hung survived his injuries (he was also stabbed), but the other two died. White then allegedly reloaded his weapon and proceeded to leave the store and fire on SFPD officers who had responded to the scene, inside Taqueria Dos Amigos next door. Officers would later find an illegal AK-47 in the trunk of White's car.
More remarkably, it's taken four years to bring this case to trial despite the fact that the prosecution has apparently very high quality surveillance footage of the entire event.
Dr. James Merikangas is scheduled to testify in White's defense, and last week Deputy Public Defender Kwixuan Maloof filed a motion in court accusing Assistant District Attorney Diane Knoles of trying to dissuade Merikangas from testifying. Merikangas is not licensed to practice in the state of California, and the prosecution has contacted the state medical board and contended that Merikangas could face a fine for his testimony. Maloof said in the motion, "The only reason for the prosecution to prompt the California Medical Board to launch an investigation into [a] defense material expert is a misuse of power to preclude and/or scare off material defense expert from testifying."
Per the Examiner, Judge Ethan Schulman has said in court that the DA's Office's actions "could well constitute prosecutorial misconduct," and he has scheduled a hearing on the matter for Monday.
White, now 27, remains in San Francisco County Jail, held without bail.