The preliminary hearing is finally underway in the so-called “Vigilante Murder Case.”
Last June 4th, around 2 a.m., an alleged gangster-pimp named Calvin Sneed was driving through the Bay View district of San Francisco, where he was shot at from another car. And killed.
Following the arrest of a couple on June 9th, the shooting appeared to be a ‘crime of passion’ committed by frustrated parents of a 17-year-old girl from Southern California who was apparently being exploited by Sneed. The parents, Barry Gilton, 37, and Lupe Mercado, 37, live in San Francisco, California and would later claim they had tried unsuccessfully to enlist police to help find and rescue her daughter.
But in the weeks after the killing detectives came to believe that this was actually a case of premeditation. Two other suspects were arrested on July 4th: Barry’s cousin, Antonio Gilton, 26, and Alfonso Williams, 35. They had been spotted in a video surveillance film from an unrelated case. In that film, taken in an area near Hayes Valley, a firearm was picked up , and all three defendants were present. The film includes scenes of the three men regrouping after the shooting and then dispersing.
Prosecutors say that other signs of premeditation include an incident a week before the killing in San Francisco, in which Barry and Lupe shot and wounded Sneed in West Hollywood. Records show that Lupe filed a missing persons report at the LA Police, but only after that shooting.
Defendants face murder and murder-related charges; bail for all defendants has been set at $2 million.
Regarding the timeframe of reaching trial, Alex Bastian, an assistant DA with the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office said “Homicide cases tend to have boxes of discovery. Additionally, this particular case deals with serious and complex issues. Furthermore, given that four different attorneys represent four different clients, scheduling requires that all parties are available for court. Given the complex and serious nature of this particular homicide case, the fact that the preliminary hearing is already ongoing within 8 months of the incident is ahead of schedule.”
The Examiner: Parents charged in plot to shoot man they believed pimped girl