A state court struck down an appeal by the convicted killer of a San Francisco police officer, affirming his conviction and sentence of life in prison without parole.
David Lee Hill was tried and convicted in 2006 of murdering Officer Isaac Espinoza and wounding his partner, Officer Barry Parker. On April 10, 2004, the plainclothes officers were driving through the Bayview district in an unmarked police vehicle when they spotted Hill and a man acting suspiciously.
Police followed Hill as he walked away, and when Espinoza stepped out of the car and asked to talk to him, Hill turned around and opened fire with a semi-automatic assault rifle. Espinoza died that night. Parker was injured.
The defense stated that Hill had not recognized the two men as police officers and was attempting to defend himself from a rival gang, an argument ultimately rejected by the jury.
Hill appealed the conviction, accusing prosecutors of misconduct and arguing, among other things, that an expert witness in the trial should not have been allowed to testify. In a decision issued Thursday, the appeals court rejected those arguments and upheld the conviction and sentence.
The case became one of the first that former District Attorney Kamala Harris oversaw. While her staff won the case and a sentence for Hill of life in prison without parole, she was heavily criticized by the Police Officers Association and by the victim’s family for not seeking the death penalty. Harris had campaigned and won her district attorney seat on a platform that she would never seek capital punishment.