A social media personality accused of fatally shooting his estranged wife and another man last year at an East Village high-rise apartment building was ordered Monday to stand trial on murder charges.
Ali Nasser Abulaban, 29, is charged in the Oct. 21 shooting deaths of 28-year-old Ana Abulaban and 29-year-old Rayburn Cardenas Barron at the Spire San Diego luxury high-rise apartment complex on Island Avenue.
Abulaban is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, allegations of using a handgun in the slayings and a special-circumstance allegation of committing multiple murders, meaning he could face the death penalty if convicted and prosecutors choose to pursue capital punishment.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and remains in custody without bail.
Abulaban was a TikTok star known as JinnKid, with more than 940,000 followers on the social media app. His account featured comedy skits and impersonations, mostly of the character Tony Montana from the 1983 film Scarface. His videos occasionally featured his wife, who had a small following of her own.
Prosecutors allege the defendant believed his wife was cheating on him with Barron, though Deputy District Attorney Taren Brast said Ana Abulaban had moved on from their marriage long before the shooting. Brast said the couple had been separated “for quite some time,” but the defendant continued to pursue reconciliation with his wife.
According to preliminary hearing testimony, the fallout of the Abulabans’ marriage was precipitated by incidents of domestic violence and indications that Abulaban had been cheating on his wife with other women.
A husband and wife who lived across from the Abulabans separately testified that about a month prior to the shooting, Ana Abulaban had knocked on their door and asked them to call the police because she said her husband had hit her. They testified that she asked to use their phone because she said the defendant had taken hers.
They also testified that the police had been called to the Abulabans’ unit several times in the months leading up to the shooting.
San Diego police Detective Sgt. Christopher Leahy testified that nine prior calls for service were made to the couple’s apartment between July and the day of the slayings, but Abulaban was not arrested in connection with any of those incidents.
One of Ana’s friends told police that she had planned on getting a restraining order against the defendant, though no restraining order was ultimately filed, according to testimony.
Though it was agreed that Abulaban would move out of their apartment, prosecutors allege he secretly made a copy of the apartment key. He allegedly later told investigators that while his wife was away on the morning of Oct. 21, he used the copied key to enter the apartment, vandalized the unit, then installed an app on his daughter’s iPad that allowed him to monitor live audio inside the apartment.
While listening to the app later that day, he overheard his wife and a man “giggling,” Leahy testified, then drove to the complex from a Mission Bay hotel where he was staying.
According to Leahy, Abulaban told police that upon entering the apartment, he saw Barron and his wife sitting on the couch, and Barron had his arm around Ana. Abulaban said he then shot both victims shortly after entering the unit, Leahy testified.
Abulaban called police around 3:10 p.m. on the day of the shooting, telling a dispatcher that he arrived at the 35th floor apartment and found both victims dead in the living room. When the dispatcher asked him to remain at the scene, Abulaban “said he had to go” and ended the call, Leahy testified.
Police and prosecutors say Abulaban then picked up the couple’s 5-year-old daughter, who was in the vehicle with him when police stopped him that day on state Route 15 near Interstate 805. He allegedly told his daughter at some point that he “hurt Mommy,” Brast said during the arraignment.
Along with what Abulaban allegedly told detectives about committing the shootings, prosecutors say Abulaban confessed to the slayings in a phone call with his mother. He also told FOX5 in a jailhouse interview that he walked in on his wife and Barron kissing — though he later said they were already shot dead when he arrived.