PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Closing arguments took place Friday against the man accused of shooting and paralyzing a Pittsburgh police officer.
Defendant James Hill took the stand Friday and denied firing his weapon at all.
He theorized that the bullet experts say was taken from officer Morgan Jenkins’ spine, the bullet that paralyzed him, was switched by police to protect his partner, officer Michelle Auge, who he thinks fired that bullet.
Prosecutor: “So you think somebody switched the bullets and that Auge shot Jenkins?”
Hill: “Yes. I didn’t fire it at the scene. Someone else fired. I know it wasn’t me.”
He admitted on the stand that he ran from police because he had an outstanding warrant and didn’t want to be caught with a gun.
Defense attorney: “Why didn’t you stop?”
Hill: “I panicked. I knew I left the halfway house and had a weapon on me. ”
He testified he was trying to throw his gun away when he was shot in the chest by Jenkins.
Hill: “I was still trying to run but I was still trying to get rid of my firearm. I stumbled and I was shot in the chest…I couldn’t breathe. I collapsed and fell on my face.”
Defense attorney: “At any point did you shoot the officer?”
Defense attorney: “Did you point the gun at the officer?”
Prosecutor: “So he shot you in the woods because he was angry about the tussle and he figured he’d shoot you now cause if he did it near the car it would be on camera?”
Hill: “Yes sir.”
Prosecutor: “You know that sounds absurd, right?”
Hill: “No I don’t.”
On Thursday, the jury in the trial of James Hill saw pictures of the guns used during the shootout Thursday.
The jury was also shown evidence that the gun Hill allegedly used, jammed.
Prosecutors argued that had the gun not jammed, more shots could have been fired.
Also a representative from Gateway Corrections, a facility that houses inmates prior to their release dates from prison, testified that Hill escaped from their facility in April of 2012. That escape was a month before his earliest release date from a 3-6 year sentence, and a year before the shooting in this case.
On Wednesday, the jury heard police dispatch tapes the day of the shooting that paralyzed Officer Morgan Jenkins.
His partner, Officer Michelle Auge also testified about the altercation with Hill that April 2013 night in Homewood.
She testified that during the struggle she tried to use a Taser on Hill, but one prong went into Hill, while the other went into her leg.
Eventually, as Jenkins pursued Hill on foot, “I heard [Officer Jenkins] yell, ‘I’m hit.’ That’s when I fired three shots. [Officer Morgan] said he was hit in his side and couldn’t feel his legs.”
Officer Jenkins was shot by a single bullet that pierced his bicep, continued through his lung and stopped near his spine.
Officer Jenkins also opened fire on suspect Hill, who was shot five times in the chest, hip, leg, wrist and fingers.
Authorities say Hill fired back at police after he was hit.
Prosecution says now-paralyzed Officer Morgan Jenkins was able to fire 33 shots the night of the shooting. His partner, Officer Michelle Auge fired three shots and the defendant James Hill fired two that they can definitely trace — 22 casings were found at the scene.
The one that hit hit Jenkins in the spine is most consistent with a bullet fired by Hill. An expert testified that the bullet was not fired by Auge’s weapon.
The jury got a lesson in just how semi-automatic weapons work.
How the bullets are fired and how cartridges are ejected.
And they learned there was plenty of gunfire when officer Morgan Jenkins was shot in the spine and left wheel chair bound.
And the gun tied to defendant James Hill fired only two shots that investigators know of. His gun jammed, though and had the potential to have fired eight. Nine rounds were still in the chamber.
The last time Morgan Jenkins ran anywhere was in April of 2013, pursuing James Hill after a traffic stop and a struggle in Homewood.
And the jury heard why Hill may have run.
And why he led them on a high speed chase after running a stop sign.
Just one month before he was eligible for release from a three-to-six year sentence for a conviction on charges including aggravated assault, he escaped from a Braddock halfway house.
A warrant was issued for his arrest about a year before this incident.
A ballistics expert testified the bullet that paralyzed Jenkins was most consistent with hill’s weapon.
The jury went into deliberations Friday afternoon.
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