Preliminary hearing on Han murder case reveals new details in brutal killing

Pierre Haobsh makes court appearance

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Wednesday marked the first day in the preliminary hearing for 27-year-old Pierre Haobsh, the man arrested and charged with the murders of the Han family last year in their Goleta Valley home. 

The bodies of Weidong "Henry" Han, his wife Huijie "Jennie" Yu and their daughter, Emily Han were found bound in the family's garage on March 24.

Haobsh appeared in Santa Barbara Superior Court Wednesday morning wearing a jail-issued orange jumpsuit and his hair grown out. His defense attorney, Christine Voss, rejected NewsChannel 3's media request for cameras in court, as she did in past hearings.

Testimony from three witnesses Wednesday revealed new details in the timeline leading up to the brutal killings, and what happened in the hours and days following.

Although no recording devices were allowed in court, members of the press were allowed to take notes. The following are bullet points notes from NewsChannel 3 Reporter Vicky Nguyen on what transpired at Haobsh's preliminary hearing on Wednesday:

  • The first witness to take the stand was Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Sgt. Brian Thielst, one of two deputies who arrived after a "suspicious circumstance" dispatch went out, linked to a welfare check request.
  • Thielst testified that he and his colleague arrived at the house to find Mr. Chao and Mr. Goldberg, both friends of Henry Han. The two men expressed that it was "unusual" for Han not to show up to a scheduled meeting in Los Angeles and that the three men had dinner together the night before.
  • Thielst testified that Chao and Goldberg admitted to walking through the house before and after calling authorities, but claim they did not walk deep into the Han's garage, where the bodies where eventually found. When Thielst testified that when he and his colleague walked through the house, it was clean, however, they found it strange that two beds were missing, including sheets and the bedding. 
  • The sheriff's sergeant testified how the three bodies were wrapped in plastic and bound by duct tape. Two bodies had visible blood splatter; the other revealed black hair and blood splatter was also visible.
  • Thielst said he and the other deputy secured the crime scene and called for back-up.
  • Photo evidence of the wrapped bodies were shown in court.


  • The second witness to take the stand was Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Deputy Julio Gutierrez.
  • Gutierrez testified that he received a call from a man identified as T.J. It was later revealed that T.J.'s full name is Thomas Dirida (unclear spelling) from Thousand Oaks had called the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's dispatch center on March 25. The deputy said T.J. claimed to be a friend of the defendant's and that Haobsh contacted him saying he needed to talk about "something urgent." 
  • During Gutierrez's testimony, he said T.J. gave Haobsh T.J.'s Thousand Oaks address where the two men eventually met and Haobsh confessed to killing the Han family.
  • Gutierrez said he was told by T.J. that Haobsh revealed how he had traveled to the Han house to discuss a "contract," left the house, then came back and committed the murders. Haobsh revealed to T.J. that he believed Han had $20 million dollars in a bank account. 
  • Gutierrez then testified that T.J. was told by Haobsh how the defendant had tried to put the bodies in the back of his car trunk, but only two would fit, so he removed the bodies, called T.J. and asked for his help getting rid of the bodies. Gutierrez testified that Haobsh told T.J. he had he murder weapon, a gun, along with Han's cell phone. He had planned to use that to get the $20 million.
  • So far, no one has confirmed that the money exists.
  • Gutierrez also testified that T.J. mentioned how Haobsh told him that Han was part of a group of doctors building a skin care line.


  • The third witness to the take the stand was Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Deputy Jeffrey McDonald. He revealed that he drove to Thousand Oaks to interview T.J. 
  • McDonald testified that T.J. told the deputy he received a text from Haobsh saying he needed "assistance" because he killed three people and needed to dispose their bodies. The date was Wednesday, March 23. McDonald testified that T.J. told him, he didn't believe Haobsh at first. He also said T.J. mentioned the $20 million dollars in bank accounts, that Haobsh claimed he stayed the night at the Han family home, left, came back, then shot the three dead before wrapping them.
  • Following along that timeline, McDonald testified that T.J. told him Haobsh texted T.J. that same Wednesday, asking if he wanted "to come to Vegas tonight? I'll pay." Two and a half hours later, McDonald testified that T.J. told him he received a text from Haobsh that read, "Yup, I'm screwed ... they found everything ... my life is over."
  • It was revealed in court that T.J. owns a marijuana-related business.


Dr. Henry Han ran the Santa Barbara Herb Clinic on Upper State and was widely respected in his field.

Haobsh was arrested in San Diego County soon after the Han Family was found dead in their Goleta Valley home. He could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole if he is convicted.

Superior Court Judge Brian Hill will decide whether or not the state prosecution team has enough evidence to bring Haobsh to trial in front of a jury. The preliminary hearing will continue through Friday.

Reporter Vicky Nguyen was at the preliminary hearing and will have a full report tonight at 5:00 and 6:00 on NewsChannel 3. Check back later for additional content and information.

comments powered by Disqus

Top Local Stories