Defense rests in David Hill murder trial
By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service
December 2, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The defense in the murder trial
of David Hill called its last witnesses in San Francisco Superior
Court on Thursday after four days of testimony that focused on
the immediate hours after San Francisco police Officer Isaac Espinoza
Defense attorney Martin Sabelli questioned inspectors Holly Pera
and Joe Toomey regarding an interview that took place in San Francisco
General Hospital on the night of April 10, 2004.
The inspectors, along with at least two other investigators,
were in the room with Espinoza's partner, Officer Barry Parker,
who was nursing a bullet wound to his foot.
Parker said during testimony for the prosecution on Oct. 18 that
he was shown a lineup of six men at that time and he identified
a man named Reuben Sibley. But discrepancies remain between the
recollections of Toomey and Pera.
Pera said she couldn't remember that Sibley was ever a suspect
in Espinoza's murder and she said that Parker never made the identification
that night. Inspector Toomey, however, said he gave the photo
spread to Parker but he also denied any knowledge of Parker's
identification, despite Parker's initials and badge number on
the physical version of the lineup.
Police later learned after finding Hill's peacoat and the murder
weapon that Sibley was not the killer and the manhunt for Hill
ensued. It wasn't until almost 48 hours after the killing that
inspectors conducted their first official interview.
The defense has done its best to discredit Parker, the sole eyewitness
to Espinoza's killing.
Sabelli brought a memory expert to the stand to testify that
the longer investigators wait to interview a witness, the less
reliable information becomes. Most people who have holes in their
memory tend to fill in the gaps using hearsay, media reports and
oftentimes "logical inferences,'' according to Dr. Scott
The defense also has pointed out several inconsistencies in Parker's
story, such as whether his badge was visible as he jumped out
of his unmarked police car and whether Espinoza identified himself
as a police officer when he attempted to stop Hill.
According to the defense, Hill did not knowingly shoot a San
Francisco police officer, but he fired out of instinct at a man
he thought was a gang member.
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