Vigilante parents accused of killing daughter’s ‘pimp’
Middle school sweethearts Barry Laprell Gilton and Lupe Mercado have been arrested for killing their daughter’s alleged pimp. After their 17-year-old daughter became involved with a known Compton gang member, and they discovered her photo in escort ads, Gilton and Mercado said they reached out to authorities for help. Becoming frustrated with the lack of help, they allegedly hunted down the gang member and shot him in his car. Both Gilton and Mercado insist they are not responsible. The Los Angeles Times reports:
SAN FRANCISCO — Attorneys for the San Francisco couple are calling it “every parent’s nightmare.”
Barry Laprell Gilton and Lupe Mercado watched, dismayed and helpless, as their 17-year-old daughter was lured away from home by a known Compton gang member, who wound up as her pimp.
The couple tried to persuade the teenager to break ties with 22-year-old Calvin Sneed. They sought help from law enforcement — to no avail — and later added the girl to several missing and exploited children registries, according to their lawyers. And that, their lawyers said, was where they left it.
Prosecutors contend they did far more.
In a criminal complaint that has stunned the couple’s friends and relatives, the San Francisco district attorney’s office said Gilton and Mercado plotted to kill Sneed. One attempt on the night of May 27, along Vineland Avenue in North Hollywood, failed. A second, not far from the couple’s home near San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, succeeded.
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.
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