Nobody said anything on James Hill’s behalf.
Not his family. Not even his attorney.
Instead, they simply listened as Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman declared the defendant a danger to society who has shown through a total of five criminal cases against him involving firearms an “escalating pattern of violence and threats” and a “disregard for human life.”
“You are incapable of being rehabilitated,” the judge said.
He ordered Hill, 25, of Homewood to serve at least 30 years and nine months in prison after he was found guilty Monday of shooting and paralyzing Pittsburgh police Officer Morgan Jenkins during a shootout last year on Apple Avenue.
A jury of seven women and five men found Hill guilty on all counts against him, including attempted homicide and assault of a law enforcement officer. They deliberated about five hours over two days.
Officer Jenkins and his partner, Michelle Auge, attempted to pull Hill over in a traffic stop about 1:30 a.m. April 11, 2013, but he fled. He testified that he was wanted on an escape charge for walking away from a halfway house the year before and did not want to go back to prison.
The officers chased Hill in his car a short distance before he crashed. Although the officers ordered him at gunpoint to stay inside his vehicle, he ignored their commands.
They tussled with him outside the car, but he was able to get away.
Officer Jenkins ran after him. Officer Auge, who said she sustained a concussion in the fight, stayed behind and radioed dispatch for backup.
A short time later, the police car dash camera recorded the sound of shots being fired, and Officer Auge ran in that direction.
According to testimony, Officer Jenkins fired at Hill when the man raised his gun at him. Hill fired at least two shots, and one hit Officer Jenkins under his armpit, where his vest did not protect him. The bullet traveled near his spine.
Hill was struck in the hand, chest, hip and thigh.
The defendant testified Friday that he never fired his gun. He said he believed Pittsburgh officers set him up to take the fall for Officer Jenkins’ injury. Instead, Hill said, he believed Officer Auge shot her partner.
However, evidence collected at the scene showed that the 9 mm gun Hill had was found on the ground with a spent casing jammed in it. Two other spent casings from it were recovered, and the bullet removed from Officer Jenkins was a 9 mm.
The officers carried .40-caliber Glock handguns.
Neither officer spoke at the sentencing. Deputy district attorney Ilan Zur asked for the maximum penalty.
Paula Ward: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter: @PaulaReedWard. First Published August 18, 2014 1:47 PM