Jury adjourns without decision in officer’s killing

The families of slain police officer Isaac Espinoza and murder suspect David Hill will not learn Hill’s fate until next year after the jury in his murder trial adjourned for the holidays Thursday.

The seven-woman, five-man jury heard closing arguments Dec. 13 after nearly two months of testimony and deliberations began Dec. 14. They will reconvene Jan. 2.

Hill, 23, has not denied that he gunned down plainclothes officer Espinoza on April 10, 2004, but his lawyer, Martin Sabelli, has argued that Hill fired out of self-defense, thinking that Espinoza and his partner, Barry Parker, were rival gangsters.

Espinoza, 29, the father of a 3-year-old girl at the time, died in a hospital after two bullets from an AK-47 hit him. Hill allegedly sprayed bullets at him and Parker, who was hit in the ankle as he took cover behind his unmarked car. Hill faces a murder charge in Espinoza’s death and an attempted murder charge for allegedly shooting Parker.

Espinoza’s family members and off-duty officers have attended the trial, packing the courtroom during the closing arguments. Judge Carol Yaggy ruled early in the proceedings that not more than five uniformed officers could attend at any one time because their presence might influence the jury.

Sabelli said Thursday that he was not surprised that the jury had not made a decision because “collective decision-making is unpredictable.”

“It appears they’re doing an extremely diligent job and that’s what we’re looking for,” Sabelli said.

amartin@examiner.com

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