A San Francisco prosecutor said today that the death penalty will not be sought against a Fisherman’s Wharf souvenir shop worker accused in the January killings of two employees at a neighboring business. Hong Ri Wu, 56, is suspected of shooting Feng Ping Ou, a 30-year-old woman, and Qiong Han Chu, a 30-year-old man, at about 8:20 p.m. on Jan. 30 inside the souvenir and luggage shop where they worked at 269 Jefferson St., police said.
He pleaded not guilty to charges in the case. Wu is accused of walking into the victims’ store and shooting them both. He worked at a nearby competing store and knew Chu and Ou, who died inside the store. A gun believed to be the murder weapon was recovered at the scene. During a mental competency hearing for Wu in San Francisco Superior Court this morning, Prosecutor Linda Allen said the district attorney’s office would not seek the death penalty.
Last month, Wu’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Kleigh Hathaway, said in court that after conversations with her client, she had doubts about his mental competency to understand the nature of the charges or assist in his own defense. A judge suspended criminal proceedings while a forensic psychologist assessed whether Wu was mentally competent, and following today’s hearing, Hathaway said the psychologist’s report found he was not competent to stand trial.
During this morning’s hearing, Wu asked for a hearing later today on the right to change his attorney from Hathaway, who was court-appointed, because “he was not satisfied with my legal representation of him,” Hathaway said. That motion was denied by Judge Wallace Douglass at a hearing this afternoon.
When Wu returns to court on July 25, prosecutors will decide whether to seek a trial on his mental competency or allow him to go to a medical facility to get treatment, “which is my wish,” Hathaway said. “What’s gradually coming to light is that Mr. Wu is mentally ill,” she said.
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