Couple Accused of Killing Teenaged Daughter's Alleged Pimp Plead Not Guilty to Murder

By: Brian Shields - Fri, 22 Jun 2012 13:27:12 -0800

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) -- A San Francisco couple accused of fatally shooting a Los  Angeles-area man who was allegedly pimping their teenage daughter pleaded not  guilty Friday to murder charges.

      Lupe Mercado, 37, and Barry Gilton, 38, have been charged with the  murder of Calvin Sneed, 22, of Compton, who was fatally shot shortly after 2  a.m. on June 4.

      Mercado and Gilton also denied special allegations that they  fired a weapon into an occupied vehicle.

      Sneed was shot in the head while he was driving near Meade and Le  Conte avenues in San Francisco's Bayview District. He crashed into a parked  car and died at a hospital later that morning.

      Prosecutors say the longtime couple, who are not married but have  four children, shot Sneed after learning that their 17-year-old daughter had  become a sex worker in the Los Angeles area and that Sneed was her pimp.

      The attorneys for Mercado and Gilton continued to deny that  their clients were guilty of shooting Sneed.

      "The prosecution has provided insufficient evidence," Eric Safire,  Gilton's attorney, said outside of court.

      Safire and Mercado's attorney, Tony Tamburello, argued that  Sneed's ties to a Los Angeles-area gang were enough of a motive for someone  else to have shot him.

      "There are people who targeted him in the past," Tamburello said.

      According to the criminal complaint against the couple, they  allegedly traveled to Southern California and, on May 27, tracked Sneed down  to a street in North Hollywood where Gilton fired a 9mm handgun at him,  striking him. He survived that shooting.

      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, prosecutors said.

      Gilton then allegedly fired again at Sneed, fatally wounding him,  according to the criminal complaint.

      Gilton and Mercado were arrested on June 9, and the attorneys for  the pair this week sought the arrest warrant affidavit, which has been sealed  by a judge.

      Without access to the affidavit, the defense does not know the  facts supporting the arrests of their clients, Safire said.

      Judge Samuel Feng, who was not the judge who sealed the affidavit,  today denied the defense's request to unseal the documents.

      The prosecution also did not reveal in court whether it would  pursue the death penalty against Gilton and Mercado.

      "This case is getting more ridiculous by the day," Tamburello said  outside of court.

      Safire said that Gilton works as a San Francisco Municipal Railway  bus operator and grew up in the city's Western Addition neighborhood but was  living in the Bayview.

      Gilton and Mercado are being held on $2 million bail each. They  are scheduled to return to court Monday at 11 a.m. to set a date for a  preliminary hearing.

(Copyright 2012, Bay City News, All rights reserved.)
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