Many people had motives to kill a man alleged to be a Compton gang member, defense attorneys said Wednesday while denying that a San Francisco couple killed their daughter’s pimp near Candlestick Park this month.
Family and friends packed a courtroom Wednesday to support Barry Gilton, 38, and longtime girlfriend Lupe Mercado, 37, who are charged with first-degree murder in connection with the vigilante-style killing of Calvin Sneed.
The couple did not enter pleas, as their attorneys complained that they had not received the bulk of the prosecution’s evidence, including an affidavit supporting the police search of the parents’ home. Their arraignment was continued to Friday to allow the judge to decide what evidence should be passed along to the defense.
Sneed, who prosecutors believe had come from Los Angeles to San Francisco to reclaim the 17-year-old daughter as his sex worker, was shot about 2 a.m. June 4 as he drove near Meade and Le Conte avenues.
Mercado alerted Gilton to Sneed’s arrival, authorities have said, and Gilton then drove up alongside Sneed’s Toyota Camry and fired three shots, killing him.
A week before the killing, the couple had allegedly tracked Sneed to Los Angeles, where they believed he had been pimping their daughter. Gilton allegedly shot and injured Sneed in North Hollywood.
The couple allegedly resorted to vigilantism, prosecutors said, after claiming their numerous attempts to seek help from law enforcement agencies had failed.
Defense attorneys on Wednesday said the parents had reported their daughter missing on a national database and made “every effort” to persuade her to come home.
The attorneys denied, however, that the couple resorted to murder.
“Mr. Sneed … is a gang member,” said Mercado’s attorney, Tony Tamburello. “There are many people who had a motive to do harm to him.”
Maxine Jones, Gilton’s cousin, sobbed after the hearing.
“Here’s a young man trying to take care of his family and provide for them, and something like this happens where he has to save his daughter,” Jones said.
Jones added that she does not know whether Gilton killed Sneed.
The couple remains in custody on $2 million bail. Their 17-year-old has been staying with family members.