Boyfriend murders plot: Ex-UCR student Barbara Wu to be released from custody

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015
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A former UC Riverside student accused of trying to have two ex-boyfriends killed for breaking up with her is expected to be released from custody on Tuesday.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- A former UC Riverside student accused of trying to have two ex-boyfriends killed for breaking up with her was sentenced Monday but is expected to be released from custody following a plea agreement.

Barbara Wu, 23, was sentenced to three years and four months in prison, but she was expected to be released Monday for time already served.

Wu accepted a plea bargain and pleaded guilty Jan. 15 to lesser charges - two counts of solicitation to commit a criminal act, stalking and witness intimidation. She was arrested in May 2013 following a UCR police investigation in which investigators learned Wu had allegedly pitted one former boyfriend against another in a murder-for-hire plot.

Wu was credited with the 610 days she has been held at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, and that time was automatically doubled under a state law intended to reduce prison overcrowding, resulting in more than three years total credit.

During a preliminary hearing, one of Wu's alleged targets testified that Wu asked him to kidnap and kill her former boyfriend and dispose of the body. After reporting it to police, the witness was asked to wear a wire during his next encounter with Wu. During that encounter, Wu allegedly incriminated herself, according to testimony.

Wu's alleged target testified that she started to plan her revenge after he dumped her via email and claims she even confronted him with a knife.

"She actually guarded the door with a knife. She tried to attack me with the knife," the victim, who was only identified as John Doe, testified.

Another ex-boyfriend said Wu had a plan to kill her high school boyfriend back in 2010. He testified he was with her when she bought a shovel, needles and duct tape. He told the court while he thought the plan was nonsense, he was pretty sure Wu was serious.

A third John Doe was identified in the defendant's criminal complaint as a victim of stalking.

Under the plea agreement with the Riverside County District Attorney's Office, prosecutors dropped several other charges against Wu, including solicitation to commit murder.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Michele Levine told Wu that this could have been a much different case.

"Were they to actually have carried this out and killed somebody, you would be prosecuted for a special circumstance murder case, which could carry up to capital punishment or the death penalty," Levine said.

Wu's attorney, Rajan Maline, says much of what happened resulted from a bad breakup and nothing more.

"We felt that it was still something that should have never been criminalized. It was something that we see a lot of. People react to things with anger and so forth and we say things that we don't mean," Maline said.

As part of her plea agreement, Wu will be unable to contact the three victims as part of a protective order that was put in place by the judge for the next 10 years.

City News Service contributed to this report.