Jurors watch interviews with suspects in death of Fort Worth officer


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Timothy Huff arrives in court on the first day of his trial for murder in the fatal shooting of Garrett Hull, a 17-year-old Fort Worth police veteran, Monday, June 6, 2022, in the 396th District Court of Tarrant County.

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On Friday, jurors watched video of Fort Worth police detectives questioning Timothy Huff, on the third day of Huff’s capital murder trial in the 2018 shooting death of Officer Garrett Hull.

Huff was held in an interrogation room for 11 hours after his arrest on the morning of Sept. 14, 2018, a detective said Friday in Tarrant County’s 396th District Court. Detective Amelia Heise said she questioned Huff for about three hours.

Huff is accused of being one of three men involved in a series of robberies, which prosecutors say led to one of the other suspects shooting Hull as officers locked them up.

Heise testified that Huff’s demeanor was initially “calm” and “he was cautious…it was very clear from the start that he wasn’t being honest.”

She started by telling him she wanted to get her side of the story and said she knew “you had nothing to do” with Hull’s death, adding that she knew he “n didn’t pull the trigger.”

Huff yawned and told Heise he didn’t know what she wanted him to say, saying something like ‘something more was going on there and I was being played’, showed the video of the interview.

Huff was vague on specifics but said three other men committed the bar robbery and he was not involved, Heise said. Huff told Heise he had never been in the suspects’ Chevy Tahoe that was found at the scene. He said he had arrived in a blue Altima, had come to the scene with someone else and would not give the person’s name.

Asked what happened that night, Huff said “supposedly someone pulled a gun on someone else over there”.

Huff told Heise the thieves were whispering and “secret” and he had no idea what was going on. He said he was on the street when the incident happened and heard a gunshot and didn’t know who had been shot, according to video and the detective’s testimony.

“It happened so fast…I don’t even know,” Huff said in the interview room.

He said he was standing in the street when he saw the police.

In the video footage, Huff said the shooting and robbery happened because of retaliation and that in the past someone had pointed a gun at Dacion Steptoe, whom Huff called “Boo.”

Prosecutors said Steptoe shot Hull and Steptoe was later shot by another officer. The third suspect, Samuel Mayfield, is awaiting trial.

When one of the robbery detectives, who was in the room with Heise, mentioned a series of robberies they believed the three men were connected to, Huff got defensive, according to video and testimony.

“I had nothing with the robberies,” Huff said. “It’s not even possible that I could be involved in this sort of thing.”

Heise told the court that she felt Huff’s answers were calculated and that “he knew enough about the police” and that he could read people and listen to the little things they said.

She said Huff became “much more defensive…with a…aggressive pushback,” when they started questioning her about the robbery instead of Hull’s death.

Huff continued to talk in circles, she said, and Heise admitted she was “lost” but “entertained the conversation” just to see what he would say. For example, when explaining where they drove earlier in the day, Huff said something like “they went down the road then took a right then a left then a left then a right then a left”, to try to confuse the detectives.

Detectives then realized they had to change their interrogation tactics because they weren’t going anywhere with Huff, Heise said.

Another detective said Huff police have been investigating him and his two friends since June and asked Huff to show his tattoos. Earlier, Huff denied having tattoos on his legs, but when he pulled his pants up, he had tattoos, according to testimony.

The detective told Huff he knew he was on the first robbery, in June 2018, “100%”

Huff laughed and said, “That’s impossible.”

Huff later told investigators he felt remorse “about tonight even though I didn’t make it,” adding that he had no involvement in a cop being shot or “whoever was shot, period”.

As the interview continued, Huff began to say that he was “not a perfect person” but “one thing about the Lord is that he knows everything…He’s going to go a long way.” and that “God made me all the way”. through no matter what’s pinned on me.

After a few hours of interviewing, Heise said, they were going in circles and she was ready to move on to the next suspect.

Heise said Huff was originally charged with the robberies because Hull was still alive when Huff was arrested.

Two detectives, Kopeland and Sullivan, conducted a second interview in which Kopeland testified that Huff seemed “defensive” and refused to give straightforward answers even to what he was wearing that night.

Kopeland said detectives showed Huff photos of Mayfield and Steptoe and he said he had seen the men before. One of the detectives then told Huff that Steptoe was dead.

Again, detectives said they knew Huff “played a very small role in this”, before becoming more aggressive in their questioning, asking if he planned to kill people that night and kill an officer.

Huff started yelling that he “didn’t want anyone to get killed” and that he “didn’t kill anyone”.

Sullivan told Huff he knew he was linked to multiple robberies, thanking him for wearing “unique clothing” that made it easier to identify him.

After talking with Huff for several minutes, Huff finally indicated there was a plan, Kopeland testified. Huff told detectives that he knew Boo “from all over the neighborhood” and that Boo told Huff he wanted revenge for an earlier incident. Huff said he didn’t know who the target was and said Boo was whispering something with another man.

Huff backtracked and said ‘it wasn’t a plan, it was all of a sudden’ and that ‘him and the other were talking about it and he called me and said ‘J ‘need you'”.

Huff said he and the other men walked through the back of the bar and he was armed only with a BB gun.

At some point during the robbery, Huff said he told the other men, “enough, stop” and that they should leave, Kopeland testified. When they left the bar, they saw police officers standing by their vehicle and that’s when everyone “got their way,” Huff said.

Huff said he was grabbed by police “about five houses away” when he heard gunshots.

Huff later told detectives that “when I heard the officer come down I was more worried about him” than about his friends. Still, according to the video and Kopeland, Huff did not cry when told the officer was unlikely to survive.

When asked if he wanted to do something like this again, Huff said no because “one person was shot and another was killed.”

At the end of the interview, Kopeland said he still didn’t believe the whole story and left the room.

The robberies

Hull was shot during the investigation in September 2018 as he and other officers monitored three men they suspected in 10 robberies that targeted people at businesses and a home in Fort Worth.

“Every victim in every case was Hispanic,” said then-Fort Worth Police Department robbery detective George Graham.

Some of the victims described a suspect as dressing or presenting as feminine or as if he was gay. The suspect was wearing tight leggings that stopped at the calf. The description, Graham testified, sounded like Huff.

On the night of September 13, 2018, prosecutors alleged that Huff, Steptoe and Mayfield robbed people at Los Vaqueros bar on Biddison Street at gunpoint. As the suspects fled the area, Steptoe fired on Hull. Another officer shot Steptoe. A trial date for Mayfield, who was also charged with capital murder in the Hull murder, has not been set.

In opening statements on Monday, prosecutor Lloyd Whelchel said while Huff may not have pulled the trigger, he was guilty of capital murder because he should have foreseen the possibility of someone being killed during the robberies. .

Huff’s attorneys, William Harris and Patrick Curran, argue that Huff may not have been involved in the previous robberies, and witness descriptions of the suspects varied in each of the crimes.

On September 13, a police team planned surveillance of the suspects.

Huff fled the bar, and police arrested him in the backyard of a nearby house. Mayfield was pulled over in a parking lot.

Also on Thursday, an FBI special agent testified that cellphone, Google and Facebook data indicated that Huff appeared to be near numerous robbery scenes.

The agent, Mark Sedwick, is assigned to the agency’s cellular analysis team. He testified that devices associated with Huff used towers whose coverage areas included crime scenes around the time the robberies occurred.

A cell phone number connected to Huff was often in communication with phones linked to Steptoe and Mayfield, Sedwick said.

The trial will resume on Monday.

Staff writers Emerson Clarridge and Kaley Johnson contributed to this report.

This story was originally published June 10, 2022 5:58 p.m.

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Jessika Harkay is a breaking news reporter for the Star-Telegram. Jessika is a Baylor grad who joined the Fort Worth team in 2021 after working as a breaking news reporter at the Hartford Courant and interning at the New York Daily News.

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