TikTok star accused of killing Fil-Am wife: Jury deliberation begins

Trial of TikTok star accused of killing Fil-Am wife: Jury deliberation begins

Closing arguments were delivered Friday in the trial of Ali Abulaban, charged in the 2021 slayings of Ana Abulaban and Rayburn Cardenas Barron
/ 05:18 PM May 25, 2024

Ali Abulaban

Ana and Ali Abulaban. Image: Facebook

SAN DIEGO – Closing arguments were delivered Friday in the trial of a social media personality charged with murdering his Filipino American wife and another man inside the couple’s East Village apartment.

Ali Abulaban, 32, who was known in online circles as a content creator dubbed “JinnKid,” is charged in the Oct. 21, 2021, slayings of Ana Abulaban, 28, and Rayburn Cardenas Barron, 29, both of whom were shot on a couch inside the Abulaban’s 35th floor unit at the Spire San Diego apartments.

Neither side disputes that Abulaban killed the victims. Instead, the jury will be tasked with deciding whether the killings were intentional and premeditated or committed in the heat of passion.

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The distinction will govern whether Abulaban is convicted of first-degree murder and face a possible life without parole sentence or convicted of a lesser charge such as voluntary manslaughter. Jurors began deliberating late Friday afternoon after the attorneys’ closing arguments and will resume deliberations next week.

Prosecutors allege Abulaban killed both victims because he was angered that his wife no longer wanted to remain married to him.

Deputy District Attorney Taren Brast told jurors Ana Abulaban made it clear she was through with the marriage following multiple incidents of domestic violence and Abulaban’s sexual encounter with another woman.


Abulaban testified that his wife may have hurled empty threats of divorce out of anger and wasn’t clear whether they might reconcile, but Brast argued Ana’s position was obvious.

“He wouldn’t let her go,” Brast said. “She wanted to be single. She didn’t want to be married to him. She told him that over and over, but he refused to accept it.”

Abulaban’s defense attorney, Jodi Green, argued that on the day of the shooting, months of suspicions about his wife’s infidelity were confirmed upon entering his apartment and seeing Ana cuddling on the couch with Barron.


In that moment, Abulaban was “overcome with what he’s seeing,” and “in a fog,” began firing, Green said.

Abulaban, who spent nearly three full days on the stand, testified that he “snapped” and “couldn’t take the (expletive) betrayal.” He said that the next thing he knew, “I’m shooting and I can’t stop.”

Green argued that though Ana stated many times that she wanted to leave her husband, her actions said otherwise. Ana would repeatedly take him back, giving him “breadcrumbs of hope,” Green said.

Abulaban’s encounter with another woman — which he characterized as a massage rather than anything sexual — was the final straw for Ana, according to the prosecution. Shortly after that, Ana’s relationship with Barron began.

Green argued that Ana did not come clean about seeing Barron, leading Abulaban to believe there was still a possibility of getting back together. The attorney said Ana instead told her friends and Abulaban’s family members that he had cheated, yet when Abulaban questioned whether she was seeing anyone else, she denied it.

“Marriage matters to me, unlike you,” Ana told Abulaban.

Brast argued Ana had no reason to reveal the relationship with Barron, because history showed that would simply make her the target of abuse.

Abulaban conceded on the stand to punching and pushing his wife on various occasions leading up to the shooting. Prosecutors also allege Abulaban punched her in the face while stationed with the U.S. Air Force in Japan, leading to his discharge from the military.

Abulaban admitted he urged her against contacting the police or seeking a restraining order in connection with those domestic violence incidents.

According to Brast, Abulaban was “possessive and controlling” throughout their entire relationship, dictating how Ana should act, what she could wear, and who she could associate with.

Once the relationship had no hope of rekindling, the prosecutor said Abulaban’s intention to kill Ana and any man she was with was formulated, well before the day of the shooting.

In early October, he texted his cousin that he saw Ana with another man.

“I’ll kill him, Abulaban wrote. In another message with an acquaintance, Abulaban wrote that he would “go to jail” if he saw Ana with a man.

Brast argued that multiple audio recordings of the shooting capture gunshots firing about one second after Abulaban entered the apartment.

Abulaban advanced towards the victims as he fired and both victims were shot in the head, Brast said. The presence of soot on Barron’s cheek indicated one bullet was fired at close range to his face, according to the prosecutor.

“Ana was his property and Ray couldn’t have her and that’s why he killed them,” Brast told the jury.

Abulaban testified that he had no plans to be at the apartment on Oct. 21.

However, he said he had an order of groceries and roses delivered to the apartment and was “anxious” to hear Ana’s reaction. He received a nonchalant response to the delivery, making him suspicious, he testified.

After driving over to the apartment and finding it empty, he texted Ana about her whereabouts. When she said she was at the apartment, Abulaban testified that he knew for a fact that she had lied and was cheating.

Abulaban activated an app on his daughter’s iPad that allowed him to hear what was going on inside the apartment. He testified his intention was to prove “she’s doing the same things she’s accusing me of doing” and drove over to confront his wife after hearing her and another man over the app.

The defense’s case included a deep dive into Abulaban’s alleged mental health struggles, childhood trauma and escalating cocaine addiction, all of which the defense argued played a role in his mindset both before and during the shooting.

Green said the collective issues mounting with his marriage and his mental health left him “emotionally manipulated, psychologically impaired, and ill-adapted for all of this.”

Green, who asked the jury to convict Abulaban of voluntary manslaughter, said that verdict would not represent “a free ride out.”

Instead she said a voluntary manslaughter conviction “just means that’s how we label the behavior is appropriate and legally sound.” (With CNS report)

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