San Diego

‘Couldn't take it': Recording of Tiktoker killing wife, friend was agony for friend's sister

Now, that the three-year-long search for justice is over, Jordana says she sits back and thinks about her brother often

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Ali Abulaban who was once a rising star on TikTok is waiting to find out if he will spend the rest of his life in prison. Last week, he was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder. The trial spanned weeks and it was filled with dramatic testimony.

While it’s over now, the families of Ana Abulaban and Ray Barron are still grieving.

“I just felt like my whole world was just shattered,” said Jordana Barron, sister of Ray Barron.

Jordana spoke with NBC 7 in an exclusive sit-down interview about how her family is grieving and what life was like during the trial and now that it is over.

On Oct 21, 2021, Ana Abulaban, 28, and Rayburn Barron, 29, were killed at The Spire apartment complex in downtown San Diego. Police who responded that afternoon found both victims dead on a couch in the living room of the Abulabans' 35th-floor unit.

“My other brother Omar called me late in the afternoon, I was just getting off work and he said he thinks something has happened to Ray and I said, ‘How could something happen to Ray? Like we were just talking to him and messaging him.’”

Jordana received the address from her brother Omar and raced to the scene.

Ali Abulaban allegedly picked up his 5-year-old daughter from her school after the shooting -- telling her at some point that he "hurt Mommy," prosecutors allege -- but was stopped in his vehicle by police later that day near the interchange of the I-805 and I-15 freeways and arrested.

“I just went and drove over to the Spire building and that’s when I saw all of the commotion and everything,” she said. “I mean I was just praying that it wasn’t him. I mean I was just hoping.”

Moments later she received the news confirming her biggest fear.

After almost three years, the investigation led to the trial that began in May 2024.

Jordana says that the families of both victims filled the seats in the courtroom. She said it was important for them to be there but it was hard being face-to-face with the accused killer at the time

"I didn’t have any hate towards him or anything, but he was just very arrogant and he was just mocking everybody in the court like staring and smiling at us so that made me think like, 'Well maybe he did do it,'" Jordana said.

a TikToker accused of murdering his estranged wife and a man she was with continues to testify in his own trial. It’s the second day of hearing from him. There’s no denying he shot and killed the pair– but he’s being questioned about what led up to it. NBC 7’s Dana Williams has the latest.

The cross-examination was heated at times and Jordana says that the experience and the revealed details still haunt her family.

“The worst part was the audio of him recording himself about to go shoot them,” she said. “My sister and I had to step out of court a few times because we just couldn’t take it anymore.”

As the end of the trial neared, Jordana said she was hopeful that the families would receive justice.

“I had trust that they were gonna do the right thing because of all of the evidence and everything that they saw and I had a lot of faith that they were gonna find him guilty,”

It wasn't until May 29 that a jury found Ali Abulaban guilty of two counts of 1st-degree murder.

"Oh my, God. It was such a relief especially when they gave the verdict on Ray of guilty first-degree murder so after that I was just so relieved and happy for my mom that finally, she can be at peace," she said. "I heard a lot of people shouting and clapping in the back, but my sister, my mom and I just hugged because we just felt this weight just drop."

Now, that the three-year-long search for justice is over, Jordana says she sits back and thinks about her brother often.

“I mean every single day. I mean he was just so nice. The world is missing out on not having him here. He would’ve been a great father because he loved kids he had a lot of nephews and he was always so nice to them and he was really looking forward to having kids,” Barron said. "We are just trying to spend as much time as we can as a family because now we realize that we’re not gonna be here forever."

Ali's sentencing is on June 28th and the families of the victims say they will officially be able to turn the page on this long nightmare.

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