Barry Gilton and Lupe Mercado stand accused of tracking their 17-year-old daughter’s pimp, Calvin Sneed, 22, across the state of California and shooting him to death, reports the L.A. Times.
The couple allegedly first attempted to kill Sneed in North Hollywood; when that failed, they alleged tried again in Candlestick Park near their home in San Francisco. Sneed was driving when he was struck by a bullet to the head and drove into a parked car. He later died at a local hospital.
Sneed, officials said, was gunned down in his car on June 4 at 2 a.m. by Gilton, who allegedly fired a .40-caliber weapon from a silver Mercedes-Benz SUV.
“We have substantial evidence to believe that this was a premeditated event,” Dist. Atty. George Gascon said Thursday.
Gascon said that as a father, he understood “the frustration that the parents must have felt…. But taking the law into your own hands is not an acceptable solution.”
Said Eric Safire, who represents Gilton: “There is some circumstantial evidence, and there’s certainly a motive, but there is no direct evidence that we’ve been made aware of.”
Gilton, 38, and Mercado, 37 — who began dating in middle school and have three younger boys — were deeply concerned for their daughter, who left home about a year ago, Safire said. They had discovered that she was appearing in escort ads, and that she seemed to be working for Sneed.
“They … had come to learn that she was being unduly influenced by this fellow,” Safire said. “They encouraged her to stay away, and tried to get help to encourage him to stay away.”
Mercado’s lawyer, Tony Tamburello, said Thursday that law enforcement officials “jumped to the conclusion that because [the couple had] a motive, that they’re the people who are responsible.”
“They’re wrong. And they’ve been wrong before.”
The girl’s parents allegedly did try to go to the authorities, but to no avail:
“They had gone out to local police agencies, agencies in Southern California–they had even tried talking to national organizations,” said Safire, to the San Francisco Chronicle. “Every place they turned to turned them away.”
Sneed’s father doesn’t deny that his son, allegedly a member of the Nutty Block Crips, may have “pimped” the young girl, but he still does not believe that murder was the right answer:
“Call him a pimp. Call him a gang banger. Paint the picture as worse as you want, he said to CBS News. “The fact of the matter is, he didn’t deserve to die. That’s the bottom line.”
Police were only able to identify the couple as potential suspects because their daughter implicated them on the night of Sneed’s murder. The teen accompanied him to the hospital, where she was questioned by police. Her parents were then brought in.
The pair faces counts of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and discharging a firearm at an occupied vehicle. Gilton has prior drug charges from the mid-1990s, and is also charged with illegally possessing a firearm while a convicted felon.
Gilton and Mercado are both being held on $2 million dollar bail. If convicted, both could end up serving life in prison.