The triple-murder trial for Pierre Haobsh continued in Santa Barbara Superior Court on Friday with testimony from a man who said Haobsh confessed the killings to him and asked for help moving the bodies.
Haobsh, 31, of Oceanside is facing three charges of first-degree murder in the 2016 deaths of Santa Barbara-area family Dr. Weidong “Henry” Han, 57, who founded the Santa Barbara Herb Clinic; his wife Huijie “Jennie” Yu, 29; and their 5-year-old daughter Emily Han.
Haobsh and Han were business associates, according to investigators, and Haobsh is accused of committing murder for financial gain.
Thomas Direda testified that he knew Haobsh through work, and then they became friends.
Prosecutor Hilary Dozer presented a conversation of text messages between the two men in March 2016 that Direda testified were related to the Han family killings.
Around 9 a.m. March 23, 2016, Haobsh texted Direda that he urgently needed his help.
Direda gave Haobsh his home address in Thousand Oaks, and Haobsh showed up within a couple of hours, and they talked in the backyard, Direda said during his testimony.
Habosh said he was a “monster” and confessed to killing three people, Direda said.
Haobsh then identified the people as “Dr. Henry,” his wife and his daughter, Direda said.
Direda knew Han, whom he described as “a friend of mine,” and said they were working together on a skincare line with CBD and trying to synthesize CBD for some of Han’s patients at the clinic.
Haobsh asked Direda for help moving the bodies, specifically Han’s, which was the heaviest, Direda said.
“I didn’t believe him initially,” Direda testified.
Direda said he would not go up to Santa Barbara County with Haobsh, as he requested, but offered to call around to see if anyone else would help him.
In response to questioning from the prosecution, Direda said he was scared for his safety and told Haobsh he would help, but did not.
Direda admitted to deleting a message in the text chain because he didn’t want to look like he was helping Haobsh, which investigators discovered from phone evidence.
In that deleted message, he said he would try to help Haobsh any way he could, and planned to contact specific friends to see if they would help.
In the series of text messages shown in court Friday, Haobsh wrote several unanswered texts asking for updates on March 23, and then wrote that he “rented an 18 wheeler with forklift and took care of it all.”
At 7:35 p.m. March 23, Haobsh texted: “Yep. Am screwed. They just found everything. My live’s over. Only if I got to it all sooner …” and right afterward, “Like this morning.”
Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies responded to the Han family home around 5:30 p.m. March 23 for a welfare check after business associates reported that Han had missed meetings that day.
In the hours afterward, detectives went through the home documenting with video and collecting evidence.
Direda said he told his mom and some friends about the confession, and called Han’s clinic to find out whether Haobsh was telling the truth.
At some point, “my mom called me the minute it was on the news to tell me it was true,” Direda said.
He testified that he called the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department to report the confession in the early morning hours of March 25, and said he was scared for his life in case Haobsh decided to “come after me.”
He also said he talked to his brother, who is a judge and former district attorney, before calling law enforcement, and that he and his brother “agreed it was important to report.”
Haobsh was arrested at gunpoint by law enforcement in San Diego County March 25, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.
Investigators testified in the preliminary hearing that they found evidence in Haobsh’s car including two guns, Han’s wallet and cell phones belonging to Han and Yu.
The non-jury “bench trial” is being heard by Superior Court Judge Brian Hill, and testimony is scheduled to continue on Monday.