In the second week of witness testimony in the case against Pierre Haobsh — the man charged in the 2016 triple-murder of Dr. Henry Han, 57; his wife, Jennie, 29; and their 5-year-old daughter, Emily — prosecutors called witnesses to testify on fingerprint evidence found at the scene and an interview between Haobsh and Santa Barbara Sheriff’s detectives.
The non-jury bench trial is presided over by Judge Brian Hill, who will decide Haobsh’s fate after hearing witness testimony throughout the next few weeks. Testimony began last week with Haobsh’s friend and associate Thomas “TJ” Direda, who said the defendant admitted to the crime and asked for his help in getting rid of evidence. The prosecution team — led by attorneys Hilary Dozer and Benjamin Ladinig and primary investigator Detective Travis Henderson — also called witnesses tying Haobsh to items purchased at Home Depot and found at the scene, as well as Chase Bank employees who reviewed statements of a failed attempt to transfer $72,000 from Han’s account to Haobsh.
On Monday, Dozer and Ladinig called Corey Schroeder, a latent fingerprint analyst from Fresno who has been certified in nearly a dozen counties and worked in the field for 25 years, to review fingerprint evidence he processed from the murder scene. Schoeder analyzed plastic bags, wrapping, and duct tape rolls — including the plastic sheets the bodies were found wrapped with — and found multiple fingerprints that matched Haobch’s prints. Schroeder was able to find fingerprints on the plastic sheets used to wrap Jennie and Emily, but not on the third body, prosecutor said.
In the afternoon, Ladinig called on Detective Jeff McDonald, who assisted in the initial interviews after Haobsh was arrested on Friday, March 25, 2016. Prosecutors played back the tapes, which showed a sleep-deprived Haobsh in a red polo shirt being interviewed by McDonald, who slowly switches between small talk and philosophical discussions about the nature of “monsters” during the four-hour interrogation.
Haobsh sat silently, slouched in his chair and leaning back as the video was projected, and he watched himself stammer through answers. He parked his burgundy Lexus in Carlsbad for a day, he said, removing the battery and leaving it unlocked; that could be why the evidence was found inside when he was arrested.
He gives short answers to most of McDonald’s questions, a simple yes or no. He seems more animated in the video, at least more than in Judge Hill’s courtroom in Department 2 of Santa Barbara Superior Court. When he does go into detail, he describes “new energy” and CBD technology he was working on with Han. He admits to speaking with Han the day before the murders, but he skirts questions about where he was on March 23.
Prosecutors will continue with detective McDonald’s testimony, and the remainder of the interrogation tapes, on Thursday morning. Dozer and Ladinig will continue to call witnesses into next week, when the defense will have an opportunity to present its case. The trial is expected to continue until Thanksgiving.