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Alleged S.F. killer Binh Thai Luc charged with five murders, plus special circumstances

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

(CBS/AP) SAN FRANCISCO - Prosecutors filed murder charges Wednesday against Binh Thai Luc, a Vietnam native accused of killing five people inside a San Francisco home.

Luc, 35, was charged with five counts of murder with special circumstances of committing multiple murders, robbery and burglary, according to court documents, plus the special circumstance of lying in wait.

The special circumstances make Luc eligible for the death penalty if convicted, though prosecutors likely will not pursue that sentence, said Omid Talai, spokesman for the district attorney's office.

Prosecutors said in the court documents that a blunt instrument was used in the killings but gave no other details.

Luc 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 Yuan Ji "Vincent" Lei, 32; his parents Hua Shun Lei, 65, and Wan Yi Xi, 62; his sister Ying Xue Lei, 37; and his girlfriend Chia Huei Chu, 30.

Investigators have not discussed a possible motive and have released few details about the circumstances surrounding the deaths, only saying they believe the occupants of the house in the city's Ingleside District were targeted.

The court documents listed additional special allegations against Luc for previously being convicted of felonies.

State records indicate Luc was arrested in the 1996 armed robberies of a Chinese restaurant and a clothing retailer in San Jose and convicted the following year of second-degree robbery and assault with a firearm. He was in prison from 1998 to 2006, then served two years on parole.

After he served his sentence, an immigration judge ordered Luc deported to his native Vietnam, but that never happened because the Vietnamese government didn't provide the documents needed to remove him, federal officials said.


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