‘If I wanted to kill him, I would’: Eli Epiha testifies at his own trial.
As unarmed cop Matthew Hunt lay dying on the street, shot by Eli Epiha, asking for help from the man who had just shot him, Epiha revealed to jurors today as he testified at his own trial.
“I thought about it for a few seconds,” Epiha said of the officer’s plea. “I’m thinking about throwing him in the police car and driving him to Waitakere Hospital.
“When I looked down at him, I started hearing sirens.”
Knowing that armed police were on their way, he decided to leave instead, he said.
Epiha, 25, pleaded guilty to Hunt’s murder earlier this month, although he claims he had no intention of killing the officer when he shot him. He is still on trial before the Auckland High Court on charges of attempted murder of Hunt’s partner, Constable David Goldfinch.
The suspect sat on the witness stand for the first time yesterday afternoon, the first witness for the defense. However, prosecutors only had a few minutes to question him before the court was adjourned for a day.
Prosecutor Brian Dickey began the morning continuing his tense cross-examination of Epiha, forcing the defendant to reluctantly talk about Hunt’s murder again.
“I’m not willing to discuss Agent Hunt,” Epiha said for the second day in a row, claiming he only needed to talk about the officer he was on trial for for firing for the second day in a row. him to answer the questions.
He first noticed Hunt that morning after Goldfinch, whom he shot first, ran out of sight, he testified. He backed up toward his crashed car and wanted to grab his second gun before running away, he said.
“I turn to go back to the car and I was shocked. I didn’t know there was a second officer. He was just standing there next to the trunk of the car.”
Why did he have to shoot the second officer, Dickey asked the defendant.
“That’s exactly how it happened,” Epiha responded. “I didn’t think.”
Dickey suggested that the defendant was frustrated that the first officer had gotten away, and Hunt offered him another chance that day to accomplish his real goal—kill a police officer.
“No, I won’t accept that,” said Epiha.
Epiha said he did not realize he had shot Hunt four times, which prosecutors suggested he intended to kill with intent.
“It’s not a PlayStation game,” Epiha said. ‘You don’t know if someone gets hit. I know that now.’
In a cell phone video taken by a witness right after the shooting, Epiha looks “cool, calm and composed” as he waits to leave the scene, Dickey also noted.
Epiha said yesterday that it only looked like this from the outside and that he used breathing exercises to practice mindfulness.
The defendant was also again asked in detail about the shooting of Putter, whom he repeatedly said he was just trying to scare away so he could “gape” it off the scene.
“I thought he was going to run away, but he wasn’t shocked,” Epiha said.
He denied Dickey’s claim that it was Epiha’s voice yelling “woohoo” before the first shot — a detail revealed by a CCTV audio recording of the rampage.
“For a man who isn’t trying to kill a cop, you’re doing pretty bad for hitting him.” [Goldfinch] four times out of five,” Dickey told the defendant. “Is it just a coincidence that you hit him all those times—not on purpose?”
Epiha replied, “Yes, I think.”
Costs reduced for co-defendant
Also this morning, lawyers for Natalie Jane Bracken — who is on trial for complicity in the murder of Officer Matthew Hunt — successfully lobbied the judge who presided over the trial to reduce her charges to complicity after committing serious injury. cause physical injury.
Hunt had not yet been officially pronounced dead when Bracken, now 31, evicted Epiha from the West Auckland borough where his shooting took place, her lawyers claimed.
Justice Venning told jurors about the change in charges after Epiha finished testifying this morning and after Bracken’s lawyers confirmed they would not call witnesses on her behalf.
Although she didn’t testify, prosecutors did play for jurors yesterday her interview with police the day she was arrested. In the interview, she said she was afraid she would be shot next time. Driving Epiha out of the neighborhood, she said, was her way of saving lives.
The closing arguments for the trial have begun.