Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced Friday that her office intends to pursue the death penalty in the case against Pierre Haobsh, an Oceanside man accused of murdering a Santa Barbara doctor and his family.
Haobsh, 27, is accused of killing Santa Barbara Herb Clinic founder Dr. Weidong “Henry” Han, 57; his wife, Huijie “Jennie” Yu, 29; and their 5-year-old daughter, Emily.
The victims’ bodies were found wrapped in plastic and duct tape in the garage of their home on the 4600 block of Greenhill Way near Goleta on March 23, 2016. Autopsies determined that all three died from gunshots to the head.
Haobsh, who appeared in court shackled and wearing an orange County Jail jumpsuit, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and special allegations that the offenses were willful, premeditated and deliberate; committed by means of lying in wait; and committed for financial gain.
In a prepared statement read to the court Friday, Dudley said that “assuming he is found guilty of the crimes he is accused of committing, he should be sentenced to the most sever punishment under California’s law which is the death penalty.”
She added that her office is prepared to put Haobsh’s fate — both on guilt or innocence and the appropriate penalty — in the hands of a jury.
In her seven years as district attorney, Dudley has never pursued the death penalty, and there’s been substantial speculation in recent weeks about what she would do in the Han case, considered especially heinous because it includes the killing of a young child.
After a preliminary hearing in early June, Haobsh was ordered to stand trial. He is due back in Hill’s courtroom Sept. 19 for arraignment.
Another issue to be taken up at that hearing is Haobsh’s apparent desire to represent himself in the case.
He currently is represented by Deputy Public Defender Christine Voss, who told Hill that Haobsh had a letter outlining his desires to serve as his own attorney.
The letter was not presented to Hill, who indicated it is an issue Haobsh has raised with him previously.
Hill cautioned Haobsh that serving as his own attorney carried significant risks, and that before making such as decision, he “should give it some serious thought.”
“Obviously you and I are going to have a long dialogue about this,” Hill said to Haobsh, who sat quietly at the defense table.
Also to be considered on Sept. 19 is Voss’ request for an injunction barring anyone associated with the case from discussing it with the news media while the legal proceedings are ongoing.
Voss told Hill that without such as gag order, “my client’s fair-trial rights might be compromised.”
Attorneys for both sides seemed comfortable with such an order, but Hill noted that the news media might want to have their attorneys weigh in on the issue.
Several media entities had asked for permission to take photos or video of Friday’s hearing, which Hill denied, as he has similar requests in the case.
The case is being prosecuted by Hilary Dozer and Benjamin Ladinig from the District Attorney’s Office.
During the preliminary hearing, it was revealed that authorities discovered numerous items in Haobsh’s car at the time of his arrest, including Han’s and Yu’s iPhones, a credit card in Han’s name, an iPad and wallet of his, and a business memorandum of understanding between Han and the defendant. There were also two guns and ammunition.
Also found in Haobsh’s vehicle was a receipt, dated March 20, 2016, from The Home Depot in Oceanside. Among the items purchased were plastic sheeting, duct tape, a soldering kit and power tools.
Detectives testified that Han and Haobsh had had business dealings together.
Previous testimony indicated that bank records showed that in March 2016, tens of thousands of dollars had been moved from a Wells Fargo account in Han’s name to a Chase account in Haobsh’s name.