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Binh Thai Luc, alleged S.F. killer of five, expected back in court on Thursday

Binh Thai Luc, booking photo
AP Photo/San Francisco Police Dept.

(CBS/AP) SAN FRANCISCO - Binh Thai Luc, who is charged in the killing of five people inside a San Francisco home, is due back in court on Thursday. This is where a judge is expected to decide whether the Public Defender's office could represent him.

Luc, 35, was charged by prosecutors with five counts of murder on Wednesday, including special circumstances of committing multiple murders, robbery and burglary, according to court documents.

Luc also received a special circumstance of lying in wait in the death of 32-year-old Yuan Ji "Vincent" Lei.

Those enhancements make Luc eligible for the death penalty if convicted, although prosecutors likely will not pursue that sentence, said Omid Talai, a spokesman for the district attorney's office.

The Vietnam native was arrested Sunday after five bodies were found Friday at a crime scene so gruesome and complex that authorities took days to identify the victims and a suspect. Police initially thought they were dealing with a murder-suicide.

The victims were Lei; his parents Hua Shun Lei, 65, and Wan Yi Xi, 62; his sister Ying Xue Lei, 37; and his girlfriend Chia Huei Chu, 30.

Luc appeared in court Wednesday but his arraignment was continued to Thursday so a judge could determine if his legal defense would be provided by the San Francisco Public Defender's Office.

Assistant District Attorney Linda Allen argued that there would be a conflict if a public defender represented Luc because the office had represented his brother, Brian Luc, 31, who may be a witness in the murder case.

Public Defender Jeff Adachi contended that his office can represent Binh Luc because Brian Luc is no longer considered a client after he was sentenced to three years' probation last year for drunken driving and firing a gun in a reckless manner.

Brian Luc also was arrested Sunday on suspicion of violating his probation for possessing drugs and ammunition. Brian Luc has not been charged in the killings and is due back in court on April 3.

Complete coverage of Binh Thai Luc on Crimesider

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