YUMA, Ariz. – A Yuma jury has found 36-year-old Jorge Espinoza not guilty of second-degree murder, in the death of an Arizona Highway Patrol officer.
The verdict came down Friday morning. The jury did find Espinoza guilty of negligent homicide. According to Espinoza’s defense attorney, Michael Donovan, that charge is a probation eligible offense. The jury deliberated Friday afternoon to see if there were aggravating factors but the jury could not decide on that and came back just before 5 p.m. Friday declaring a hung jury. That means there could be another trial.
The jury also found Espinoza guilty on six other counts of endangerment, but not guilty on seven other charges of endangerment. The jury did find Espinoza guilty on all six counts of criminal damage.
Arizona Department of Public Safety Officer Tim Huffman was writing a report at an accident scene on Interstate 8 May 2013 when his patrol vehicle was struck in a multi-vehicle collision involving a tractor-trailer rig driven by Espinoza.
Prosecutors argued that Espinoza was distracted by looking at his cellphone. Espinoza’s defense said he was blinded by the sun and that DPS did not place adequate signage around the scene Huffman was at when he was writing the report.
Jurors began deliberating Tuesday afternoon and came down with the verdict Friday just after 10:30 a.m.