Jury deliberates in David Hill murder trial
By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The two-month trial for the accused
murderer of a San Francisco police officer ended today with two
distinctly different interpretations of a tragic story.
On one hand, the prosecution portrayed the defendant, 23-year-old
David Hill, as a thuggish mobster who went out the night of April
10, 2004 to seek revenge on the killer of a fellow gang member.
In the process, Hill willfully murdered Officer Isaac Espinoza
and tried to gun down his partner after they suspected him of
carrying a weapon.
The defense, on the other hand, told a story of Hill as a young
man growing up in the violent streets of "Baghdad by the
Bay" where he chose sides in a street war as a member of
the Westmob gang.
On the night of Espinoza's death, Hill was simply taking a well-traveled
back-alley route through enemy gang turf in order to buy some
marijuana. When a creeping car approached from behind and a passenger
got out, he reached for his only protection, an AK-47 assault
rifle, according to defense attorney Martin Sabelli.
"Self defense is not an excuse, not a technicality,"
Sabelli said today. "It's a right that everyone has ... because
During a rebuttal, Assistant District Attorney Harry Dorfman
said the defense argument had no basis in fact.
"You know the defense is in trouble when they refer to whole
categories of evidence as diversions," he said.
But Sabelli spent much of his closing argument today pointing
out that many of the facts were not as solid as the prosecution
claimed, especially in the case of Officer Barry Parker, the lone
eyewitness to testify in the trial.
Parker faltered on several points during his testimony, from
identifying himself as a police officer that night to picking
out the wrong man in a police lineup.
Dorfman countered that if Parker were making things up, he could
have testified to information that would truly make Hill look
"He's lucky to be alive, lucky to be in this courtroom,"
Dorfman said of Parker.
Dorfman went on further to divert any blame placed on Parker
or Espinoza himself for what happened that night, saying, "Only
one man is responsible here, one man, the defendant."
Dorfman continued, "All the good citizens in the Bayview
are supposed to duck in the crossfire? Self defense law doesn't
give any special privileges to gang members."
Sabelli addressed the jury and a courtroom filled with police
officers and Espinoza's family members as he gave his last words.
"Put a different face on David Hill for a moment,"
he said "Think about somebody you love and put the face on
David Hill ... Not every tragedy is a crime ... that's what guides
you when determining what happened that night."
Judge Carol Yaggy reiterated that it would be the jury of seven
women and five men that determines which interpretation of the
story is correct.
Hill faces murder and attempted murder charges with several special
circumstances such as causing the death of a peace officer and
murder with a gun.
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