SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A San Francisco couple is accused of murder in an apparent case of vigilante justice in which the pair allegedly fatally shot a Los Angeles-area man who was pimping their 17-year-old daughter, District Attorney George Gascon said Thursday.
Lupe Mercado, 37, and Barry Gilton, 38, have been charged with murder for the killing of Calvin Sneed, 22, of Compton, who was shot in the head as he drove near Meade and Le Conte avenues in San Francisco’s Bayview District shortly after 2 a.m. on June 4.
Gascon said Thursday that the longtime couple shot Sneed after learning that their teenage daughter had become a sex worker in the Los Angeles area and that Sneed was her pimp.
Gilton’s attorney, Eric Safire, denied that his client murdered Sneed.
He called the situation with the couple’s daughter “a parent’s worst nightmare” and said they had gone to various agencies to try to get their daughter to come back but were unsuccessful.
“I understand the frustration that the parents must have felt,” Gascon said. “Having said that, taking the law into your own hands is never an acceptable solution.”
According to the criminal complaint against Mercado and Gilton, the pair allegedly traveled to Southern California and, on May 27, tracked Sneed to a street in North Hollywood where Gilton fired a 9mm handgun at him, striking him.
Sneed then traveled up to San Francisco to get the pair’s daughter, who had returned to the city, and on June 4 the couple found him again, Gascon said.
According to the complaint, Gilton fired from a silver Mercedes SUV into Sneed’s Toyota Camry. Sneed was hit by the gunfire, and his car crashed into a parked vehicle. He was taken to a hospital where he died later that morning, police said.
Safire said, “The only evidence that we’ve been presented with is quite circumstantial,” and said Sneed is a known gang member who may have been shot by another gang member while “engaged in his normal customary business.”
Court documents from a Los Angeles County murder case involving Sneed’s friend allege that he was a member of the Nutty Block Crip gang.
Safire said Gilton grew up in San Francisco’s Western Addition neighborhood and works as a San Francisco Municipal Railway operator. Muni operator union records show he has been employed by the agency since 2008.
Gilton and Mercado have been charged with murder, conspiracy and various firearm charges. Gilton also faces a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon because of a 1995 drug conviction, prosecutors said.
The pair appeared in court on Wednesday but did not enter a plea.
They are set to return to court on June 20.
The daughter is currently staying with family members, Safire said.