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Authorities say a San Francisco couple dispensed their own brand of justice by gunning down their 17-year-old daughter's pimp, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Prosecutors say Barry Laprell Gilton, 38, and Lupe Mercado, 37, had attempted once before to kill 22-year-old Calvin Sneed in May but were unsuccessful.
In a second attempt, Sneed was sitting in his car on June 4 when Gilton fired a .40-caliber weapon from another vehicle, killing him, the Times quoted officials as saying.
Gilton and Mercado each have been charged with one count of murder, one count of discharging a firearm into an occupied motor vehicle and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. Gilton faces an additional charge of possession of a firearm as a felon because of a 1995 drug-related conviction, the Times reported. They are being held on $2 million bail each.
According to Gilton's lawyer, Eric Safire, there isn't enough evidence to tie the parents to the murder.
"There is some circumstantial evidence, and there's certainly a motive, but there is no direct evidence that we've been made aware of," Safire told the Times.
The couple's daughter left home about a year ago and they discovered she was appearing in escort ads and working for Sneed. They tried to persuade her to return home, the newspaper said.
During an attempt on Sneed's life on May 27, Gilton fired a handgun at him while he sat in a car in North Hollywood, the Times quoted officials as saying. Police said Sneed was injured by shattered glass but refused to cooperate with police.
The weekend before the second shooting, officials said, the daughter visited a sick relative and argued with her parents, who insisted that Sneed leave, the Times reported.
Assistant District Attorney George Gascón said at a news conference that he felt the parents' anger and frustration, but that vilgilante justice will not be tolerated, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
"Killing someone in a situation other than defense of serious bodily injury or death is not an acceptable solution," Gascón told reporters.
Authorities said Sneed was a member of the Nutty Block Crips in Compton, outside Los Angeles, and was the victim of a drive-by shooting last year, the Chronicle reported.
His father, Charles Sneed, said his son wasn't in a gang but had been shot at many times, the Chronicle reported. He said he tried to convince the younger Sneed to change his ways and tried to stage an intervention but no other family member backed him, the paper reported.
He said he would have returned the girl to her home and tried to persuade his son to stop being a pimp if he had known what was going on.
"Weigh it up," he told the Chronicle. "You can call him the dirtiest low-down dog in the world, but if he wasn't killing anybody, he didn't deserve that."
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