Monday was the first day of the capital murder trial for one of two suspects in connection to the 2018 killing of Fort Worth police officer Garrett Hull. Inside Tarrant County's 396th District Court, colleagues of the slain officer and his wife took the stand.
The trial was supposed to start last week but was delayed when the defendant was hospitalized after saying he accidentally swallowed a razor blade while in the Tarrant County Jail.
Timothy Huff is charged was charged with capital murder.
Four years ago, Officer Hull and his team were investigating Huff, Dacion Steptoe and Samuel Mayfield in connection to at least 17 robberies in the area that targeted Latino bars in and around Fort Worth under the belief that Latino victims would be less likely to report a robbery to authorities.
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Officer Hull and his unit, made up of undercover and uniformed officers, were in the process of following the suspects and watched as they entered Los Vaqueros Sports Bar in September of 2018.
The officers decided not to go inside because they didn't want to pose an extra risk to everyone in the bar, so they waited for the suspects to leave. When the officers tried to arrest the suspects, they took off. Officer Hull was chasing Steptoe, who police said shot Hull in the head. Two other officers returned fire and killed Steptoe.
Huff and Mayfield were arrested. They did not pull the trigger, but the state has charged them with capital murder because of their connection to the situation which led to Officer Hull's death.
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During opening statements, Lloyd E. Whelchel, the prosecuting attorney for the case, said Huff should have anticipated that a life could be taken during robberies and talked about other allegations surrounding past alleged robberies.
"You're going to hear it from his own mouth when he was interviewed by police, about what he knew Steptoe (the shooter) was capable of," said Whelchel as he pointed at Huff while speaking to the jury.
Meanwhile, William Harris, one of Huff's defense attorneys, countered that the case is not cut and dry and claims his client may not be tied to the number of robberies he's accused of. He also claims his client surrendered.
"Mr. Huff runs furthest to the backyard of a house and police instruct him to surrender, he does that, voluntarily," said Harris during opening statements. "Yes he puts down the gun, mask, everything, comes out and surrenders and gets down on the ground like they tell him to."
"He said, 'These guys are dangerous babe,'" said the widow of Officer Hull.
The first person to take the stand Monday morning was Sabrina Hull, Officer Hull's wife of 14 years. During testimony, she detailed her relationship with Hull and how they met, which was at the apartment complex they lived at in 2002. They dated for two years and got married. He was the father to two kids, including a 3-year-old girl they adopted.
Hull recalled the events of the night leading up to her husband's death. She said they celebrated their oldest daughter's birthday via FaceTime on Sept. 13, 2018, because she was out of town for school. Sabrina said that night she knew her husband would be out late for work, so she went to bed and texted him around 10 p.m.
“Wished him luck and that was it," she said while on the stand. The prosecutor asked if Officer Hull responded, his wife said he did not.
That night her neighbor, who also happened to be a Fort Worth police officer and his wife knocked on her door.
"I was bewildered that there was a knock and a ringing at the doorbell," she said. “The next thing I know, they were saying, we need you to get dressed to go to the hospital.”
“I said give me a few minutes, I need to pray," she continued.
When they got to the hospital she learned that Officer Hull had been shot in the head and was in 'grave danger.' She said the doctors let her see him.
“His blood pressure had went up and when I started talking, the nurse said his blood pressure settled and that made me feel really hopeful," said Sabrina.
His wife said the next day they were told that her husband was legally brain dead, he died on Sept. 14, 2018.
She reflected on their conversation just days before his death and how he had more stress about this investigation than he did with others.
“He said these guys are really dangerous babe, and it's like bad," she recalled. "He said he felt like there was going to be a shooting involved, and I was like, ‘Don’t put that in the universe, don’t say something, don’t think like that.’ And he said, 'We need to talk about these things, they’re real.'”
She said they never had a conversation like this one before and that her husband made references that if something ever happened to him, it would be good to be prepared for the funeral, their children and other household business.
Other colleagues of Officer Hull took the stand, including one of the officers who was nearby when the shooting happened and was one of the two officers who shot and killed Steptoe.
Customers and employees who were inside the bar during the time of the robbery described their experience from that night to the jury.
Because of a juror's personal issue, day two of the murder trial is set for Thursday at 8:30 a.m.