Accused gunman pleads not guilty to double murder in San Diego high-rise

Hours before killing his newly estranged wife, a San Diego man surreptitiously installed a listening device on his 5-year-old daughter’s tablet — and when he heard his wife and another man talking, he came over and shot them to death, a prosecutor said in court Monday.

Ali Abulaban, still armed, then picked up his daughter from school, Deputy District Attorney Taren Brast said.

Those details were among several revealed during the San Diego Superior Court arraignment for the accused gunman, 29-year-old Abulaban, who pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder as well as special circumstances allegations of multiple killings.

Police identified the victims as Ana Abulaban, 28, and Rayburn Cadenas Barron, 29, of National City.

They were shot to death just before 3 p.m. Thursday in Ana Abulaban’s apartment on the 35th floor of the Spire San Diego high-rise, on Island Avenue in East Village.

Brast said Abulaban confessed to detectives and accused his wife of cheating, although the prosecutor said she believes Barron was a friend.

According to Brast, Ana Abulaban had asked her husband to move out Oct. 18. He checked into a hotel.

Three days later, Brast said, Ali Abulaban sneaked back into the apartment and trashed it while his wife was gone. He also installed the app on his daughter’s iPad, left it charging in a bedroom and took off.

Hours later, Ali Abulaban was listening to the app when he heard his wife and a man talking and giggling, Brast said, and he raced back to the high-rise and opened fire with a handgun. Security camera video showed him running out of the elevator to the apartment.

San Diego police stand outside the entrance to the Spire San Diego high-rise in the East Village Thursday afternoon, after two people were found dead in an apartment on the 35th floor. Suspect Ali Abulaban pleaded not guilty Monday to killing his wife Ana Abulaban and her friend Rayburn Barron.

(David Hernandez/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Brast said Abulaban shot Barron, then shot his wife. Abulaban then called his mother and confessed.

After he picked up his daughter, he called police about 3:10 p.m. as he drove on state Route 94. They arrested him 45 minutes later on state Route 15 near Interstate 805. His daughter was in the vehicle.

Police said Monday that the girl — who was not present during the shooting — was placed with family.

According to Brast, Abulaban has a history of domestic violence. His wife called police last month to report that her husband had pushed her, causing minor injuries. She planned to file a restraining order.

Judge Kimberlee Lagotta ordered Abulaban jailed without bail. The judge also issued a protective order that requires Abulaban to stay away from his daughter.

About two dozen family members and friends of the two victims packed the courtroom. Several of them sobbed as Brast shared details about the killings.

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