Hill convicted of 2nd degree murder
with special circumstances
Life without parole sentence sought
District Attorney Kamala Harris celebrates a jury verdict in the
murder trial of David Hill who was convicted today of 2nd degree
murder with special circumstances, for the killing of SFPD Officer
Isaac Espinoza. The special circumstances enhancement carries
with it a sentencing provision of life without the possibility
By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service
January 4, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - After the initial shock of a lesser
conviction for the murder of Isaac Espinoza came down today from
a jury, many were relieved to learn that special circumstances
could result in life in prison without parole for David Hill,
according to the San Francisco district attorney's office.
SFPD Officer Isaac Espinoza was killed in the line of duty
when he was shot and killed by David Hill on April 10, 2004.
Photo courtesy SFPD
A Superior Court jury of seven women and five men convicted Hill,
23, of second-degree murder with the special circumstances that
he knew he was shooting at a police officer on the evening of
April 10, 2004.
The courtroom, filled beyond capacity with police officers and
Espinoza's family members, expressed disappointment as the court
clerk read a not guilty verdict for first-degree murder.
But news from the district attorney's office that Hill could
spend life in prison because he knew he was killing a police officer
sent waves of relief through the crowd.
Assistant District Attorney Harry Dorfman said that the key evidence
in the six-week long trial was the testimony of Espinoza's partner,
Officer Barry Parker.
"He was the victim of an attempted murder," Dorfman
said. "Barry Parker told this jury that just before the shooting
began, the defendant said to Isaac Espinoza, 'I don't have any
identification...' It's from God's grace that he lived to be a
witness at this trial."
Assistant District Attorney Harry Dorfman flanked by District
Attorney Kamala Harris (left)
and Police Chief Heather Fong (right).
District Attorney Kamala Harris congratulated Dorfman to the
cheers of others in the hallways of the Hall of Justice.
"Justice has been done as it relates to the killing of the
great and heroic Officer Isaac Espinoza," said Harris, who
also called Parker a hero.
"Of course the verdict today does not bring Officer Isaac
Espinoza back, and that is a tragedy. But what today's verdict
does do is it says to all of us that he should never have been
killed, when he was killed it was with malice, and it deserves
a punishment of life without parole," Harris said.
The conviction comes after a tense nine full days of deliberations.
The jury also found Hill, 23, guilty of using an assault rifle
for the use of gang purposes, attempted murder of Parker, and
several other special allegations.
Hill already pleaded guilty to a count of being part of a criminal
Dorfman had argued for first-degree murder in the case, claiming
that Hill made a premeditated decision to gun down Espinoza and
Martin Sabelli, Hill's defense attorney, argued that Hill was
only protecting himself on enemy gang territory when he turned
and shot at two plainclothes officers that he thought were rival
"I respect the jury's verdict," Sabelli said. "They're
a hard-working, skeptical jury."
Sabelli added that he will appeal if necessary, but he would
attempt to retry the case first.
"I'm optimistic that we'll receive a new trial, and ultimately
we'll prevail," he said.
Jurors left the courtroom without comment as did Hill's mother.
Police Chief Heather Fong attended the reading of the verdict
and made a statement afterward.
"We know that the officers in the department on a daily
basis are out there putting their lives on the line," Fong
said. "Although this verdict does not bring Officer Espinoza
back to his family or back to the department, we know that if
an officer is injured, if an officer is killed by someone, that
justice will be served and that our officers will continue to
do the best job that they know how to."
Police Chief Heather Fong
Gary Delagnes, president of the San Francisco Police Officers
Association, changed from irate to grateful when he learned that
Hill might spend the rest of his life in prison.
"The statement has to be made to society that if you kill
a cop, if you kill someone that's trying to protect others, you're
not getting out of prison; you're not going to see the light of
day; goodbye forever," Delagnes said.
Police Officers Association President Gary Delagnes
Hill is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 8 in front of Judge Carol
Yaggy in department 28.
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