Jury Reaches Verdict In Trial Of TikTok Star Accused Of Murdering His Wife And Her Male Friend

A former TikTok star was found guilty Wednesday of two counts of first-degree murder in the fatal shootings of his estranged wife and another man in their San Diego apartment in 2021.

Ali Abulaban, 31, did not deny killing Ana Abulaban, 28, and Rayburn Barron, 29, but testified that he “snapped” after finding the two cuddling on the sofa of the apartment the Abulabans had shared with their young daughter. The first-degree murder charges included allegations of using a handgun in the killings. Because the jury also affirmed the special-circumstance allegation of committing multiple murders, he will be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

He could have faced the death penalty if prosecutors had decided to pursue it, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported

Ana Abulaban, 28, and a male friend were shot by her husband in October 2021.
Ana Abulaban, 28, and a male friend were shot by her husband in October 2021. GoFundMe

The jury had to decide whether the killings were premeditated or intentional, or whether Ali Abulaban acted in the heat of passion, as his defense team argued. They began deliberating late Friday afternoon after an 18-day trial.

Ali Abulaban’s defense attorney argued in opening statements on May 1 that he had been “driven to the brink” by his wife’s rejection, and that his judgment was clouded by his addiction to cocaine and mental health struggles.

Prosecutors argued that the popular content creator — who performed comedic impersonations of Al Pacino’s “Scarface” character under the handle JinnKid — had carefully planned the killing in the wake of the couple’s separation. Ana Abulaban had for years been a victim of her husband’s possessive, controlling behavior and physical assaults, prosecutors said, finally culminating in her murder.

Before leaving to stay at a local hotel, prosecutors said, Ali Abulaban secretly copied a key to their high-rise luxury apartment. The morning of the killings, he entered the unit while his wife was away, installed a microphone app on his daughter’s iPad, and hid it in the bedroom so he could eavesdrop remotely. 

Before leaving, he ransacked the unit. A friend of Ana Abulaban’s testified that she had planned to file a restraining order later that day, Oct. 21, but never got the chance, Fox 5 San Diego reported.

At about 3 p.m., when he heard live audio of his wife and Barron talking and giggling, Ali Abulaban drove to their building, rode the elevator to the 35th floor, burst into the apartment and fired, prosecutors said. His movements throughout the property were captured by a number of surveillance cameras.

Jurors heard the fatal shots in the dramatic opening moments of the trial.

Prosecutors dimmed the lights in the courtroom and showed video recorded from a neighbor’s security camera. Only a building corridor could be seen, but the audio was crystal clear: five shots, a woman’s scream, another shot, and then silence.

Barron was shot three times in the head and neck, prosecutors said, at such close range that the medical examiner found soot on his cheek. Ana Abulaban was shot in the middle of her forehead.

Rayburn Barron, 29, was sitting on the couch with his friend Ana Abulaban when her husband barged into the apartment and fatally shot them.
Rayburn Barron, 29, was sitting on the couch with his friend Ana Abulaban when her husband barged into the apartment and fatally shot them. GoFundMe

The camera also recorded audio, played later in court, of Ali Abulaban on the phone with his mother, shouting that he had killed his wife. He also took a picture of the bloodied bodies, slumped over each other on the couch, and sent it to his mother, she testified on May 20.

Ali Abulaban also testified in his own defense. He was a volatile witness in his dayslong testimony, his calm demeanor interrupted by angry outbursts and crying, Court TV reported.

After the killings, Ali Abulaban called 911 and then picked up his then-5-year-old daughter from school. Just before police pulled him over and arrested him, he testified, he told his daughter, “I hurt Mommy.”

The Abulabans’ marriage was tumultuous from the start, marred by domestic violence, prosecutors said. They met in Japan in 2014, where he was serving in the Air Force, ABC 10 News reported. He was discharged after he punched his wife in the face, prosecutors said, although Ali Abulaban testified that it was a misunderstanding and said she had been injured in a fall.

Still, the couple remained together, moving first to Virginia and then to San Diego, where Ali Abulaban, who had amassed almost a million followers on social media, sought to gain a foothold in the entertainment industry, prosecutors said. In addition to his “Scarface” skits, he posted a number of videos featuring his wife (who was usually behind the camera filming him) — including footage of the couple arguing.

In the video of one JinnKid TikTok livestream shown in court, Fox 5 San Diego reported, Ana Abulaban can be heard calling police in the background.

The couple “were caught in a harsh and heartbreaking cycle of arguments and fights where Ana would push him away, bring him back, claim they were over, threaten him … then suddenly re-engage him with affection and encouragement,” Ali Abulaban’s defense attorney said, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

In a text she sent to Ali Abulaban hours before he killed her, prosecutors said, according to multiplenews outlets, Ana Abulaban was unequivocal.

“I want you out of my life, once and for all,” she wrote.

Ali Abulaban is scheduled to be sentenced on June 28.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.