'I'm shooting and I can't stop': TikTok star Ali Abulaban takes the stand (2024)

SAN DIEGO (Court TV) — A man who was once a rising star on social media broke down on the witness stand as he testified in his own defense at his murder trial.

'I'm shooting and I can't stop': TikTok star Ali Abulaban takes the stand (1)

Ali Abulaban looked down as he testified for a second day during his murder trial. (Court TV/Pool)

Ali Abulaban is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of his wife, Ana Abulaban, and her friend, Rayburn Barron. The two were killed on Oct. 21, 2021, at the apartment Ali and Ana shared. Ali has not denied his role in the killings, but his defense has argued that the shootings were a crime of passion and not premeditated.

In a direct examination that spanned two days, Ali spoke about an abusive childhood, his discharge from the military and his relationship with Ana, beginning with their courtship and ending with her brutal murder.

Ali met Ana while working as a police officer in the Air Force, but was later forced to leave the military after he was accused of assaulting her. The couple had been at a bar near the Air Force base in Okinawa, Japan, where Ana worked part-time. Ali admitted to getting drunk but said that after he was asked to leave the club he slipped and fell, crashing into Ana. Witnesses at the time accused him of hitting Ana.

When asked by his attorney whether he had ever assaulted Ana, Ali declared, “I would never do that in public!” He then clarified, “I don’t mean that’s something I condone, I just mean [his accusers] did not witness anything.” Ali admitted that when he was initially called in and questioned about an off-base assault, he lied and said that he had been at home. Given the choice, Ali chose a voluntary discharge from the Air Force rather than a court martial.

Ali did admit to assaulting Ana on other occasions. After the two were married and had a child, there was friction in their marriage. Ali suspected that his wife had been sending intimate photos and texts to another man. Several days after discovering a conversation on her phone, Ali said the two fought about it and the argument turned physical. “I snapped,” Ali said. “I rolled on top of Ana and I began punching her.”Ali admitted to punching his wife repeatedly in the face.

Another incident, recorded by Ali on his phone, was played for the jury and showed an argument between the couple escalating to the point where Ali pushed her. Ana fell, hitting her head on the end of the bed. Ali said that at the time, both of them were under the influence of cocaine and alcohol.


In the days and weeks preceding the murder, Ali had become increasingly jealous and paranoid about Ana cheating on him and installed an app on their young daughter’s iPad that allowed him to secretly listen to what was happening in the home. On the day of the murders, Ali said that he heard his wife and a man’s voice laughing. His response was to do cocaine and head to the apartment, armed with a gun. Driving over to the apartment, Ali testified that he was continuing to use the drug, saying, “It’s probably the most co*ke I’ve ever done.”

Ali became emotional on the stand recounting walking into the apartment and discovering that Ana was there with his friend, Ray.

“When I saw that it was him, I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t take the [expletive] betrayal. I couldn’t believe she could do that to me, to our daughter. And before I could stop myself, I just [expletive] snapped and my gun was in my hand and next thing I’m shooting and I can’t stop. I’m just shooting, I’m shooting. I’m even startled it’s like I’m watching it happen, like I’m in the passenger seat of my own body.”

While Ali said that he remembered shooting at Ray, he said he couldn’t remember shooting Ana. He also denied remembering taking a photo at the scene, saying he was in a fog and didn’t know how to “process” what was happening.

Ali faced a contentious cross-examination that had him asking the judge at one point, “What happens when the question is forcing me to say something specific?” as the prosecutor grilled him on the patterns of violence in his relationships.

The judge had to intervene to calm both sides after a particularly tense exchange when the prosecutor asked about an alleged assault on his mother.

Prosecutor: “Ana saw you slap your mom, right?”
Ali: “She did not see that.”
Proseuctor: “And I can’t ask her right?”
Ali: “That’s not fair.”
Prosecutor: “Because you killed her?”
Ali: “That’s not fair. That’s so inappropriate.”

Ali has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he faces life in prison without parole.

'I'm shooting and I can't stop': TikTok star Ali Abulaban takes the stand (2024)
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