San Diego

Sentencing delayed for San Diego TikToker Ali Abulaban who murdered wife, friend in East Village

The defense requested the sentencing be continued while the prosecutor argued that the family of the victims needed closure.

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Sentencing was continued Friday for a former San Diego TikToker who killed his estranged wife and her friend at an East Village high-rise apartment building in October of 2021.

Ali Abulaban, 32, had been found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder on May 29. During Friday’s scheduled sentencing, Abulaban looked different than he had throughout the lengthy trial, including a buzz cut and jail-issued shirt and pants. The defense requested the sentencing be continued while the prosecutor from the district attorney’s office disagreed and argued that the family of the victims needed closure.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Fraser agreed to the continuance and stated that he’s not sure of ever having denied a first time request. The new sentencing date is Sept. 6.

Abulaban — who went by "JinnKid" on social media — admitted during the high-profile trial that he shot and killed 28-year-old Ana Abulaban and 29-year-old Rayburn Cardenas Barron at the Spire San Diego luxury apartment complex.

Since there was no dispute he killed the victims, jurors were instead tasked with deciding whether the killings were first- or second-degree murder.

Deliberations started on May 24, and the jury reached a verdict late in the morning of May 29.

Abulaban was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, with allegations of using a gun in the killings. He was also charged with a special circumstance allegation of committing multiple murders.

The defense was hopeful the jury could have found him guilty of second-degree murder, and his sentencing exposure would have been far less. He was instead found guilty of all counts and special circumstances.

"The jury came in and listened to the evidence for weeks, and they came to the right decision," Deputy District Attorney Taren Brast said.

After the verdict was announced, Barron's sister, Jordana Barron, told NBC 7 that her brother and Ana finally "got a little bit of justice."

"Obviously nothing is going to bring our brother or Ana back, but at least he is never going to be able to do this to another person again," Jordana said.

Closing Arguments

Brast began her closing arguments in the downtown courtroom by asking the jury to find Abulaban guilty of two counts of first-degree murder. She went through a timeline of the day Abulaban killed Ana and her friend Barron, describing how Abulaban had spied on Ana to catch her with another man and that he had malice and intent to shoot them to death on the couch in the apartment where he once lived.

"Heat of passion does not apply when you walk into an apartment that you had bugged, with a key card you were not supposed to have, to a fight that no one else knew was happening but you," Brast said. "And you brought a gun. That is not heat of passion."

Brast said Abulaban had plenty of time to rethink his decision to drive to the downtown luxury condo he shared with his wife to shoot and kill her and the man she was seeing.

The prosecutor displayed the graphic photos Abulaban took of the bodies, played the sounds of the gunshot recordings he had on his phone and even mentioned the online searches for how to cut up and trash a body, among other things. She said Abulaban killed the couple because he felt disrespected, and this was planned and premeditated, not a reaction in the heat of the moment that Abulaban claims.

Brast also mentioned the history of domestic violence and Ana's text messages to Abulaban expressing her fear and desire to leave the marriage, and the chances he had to rethink his actions, including during the drive to the apartment to confront Ana and Barron, and even in the ride up in the elevator.

"It was willful, deliberate and premeditated," Brast said.

Jodi Green, Abulaban's defense attorney, then presented her closing arguments. Green told the court her client shouldn't be convicted of murder because he had a bad childhood, mental health issues and was high on cocaine.

"Ali Abulaban is not a murderer," Green said. "Yes, he killed Ana, the woman he loved, the mother of his beautiful daughter, Amira, and he killed Ray, a man with whom Ana was having an affair. And he cannot undo what he has done, but he did not murder them. He is not a murderer."

Green said it was manipulation and that Ana dragged Abulaban along.

The defense attorney also pointed out the fact that Abulaban was re-racking his gun in between shots, which is unnecessary, and that it proves he was out of his mind, as well that he had cocaine in his system eight hours later, proving he was not of sound mind.

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