San Francisco, CA – Demetrius Hill, 20, was acquitted yesterday afternoon of first degree murder in connection with the May 3, 2008 shooting death of Ajason Black, 32, in the parking lot of the Buchanan YMCA on Geary Boulevard.
Deputy Public Defender Mark Iverson, who represented Hill, successfully argued at trial that Hill had no motive to kill Black, police had no physical evidence tying Hill to the shooting, and that the eyewitnesses had motive to lie in order to cover up for the real shooter.
“I find this to be a very satisfying verdict because I believe that Demetrius Hill is innocent,” Deputy Public Defender Iverson said.
In the hours preceding the shooting, Tanya Tyler, 34, and Black were engaged in a heated public argument. At trial, Tyler and her daughter, Champagne Tyler, 18, testified to watching Hill shoot Black once in the back.
The elder Tyler admitted that the gun used to shoot Black belonged to her. According to another witness, Tyler’s son, Lamoney Tyler, 20, sold the gun the next day. Police briefly interviewed Lamoney Tyler, only after Hill was taken into custody. Inspectors never followed up with the person who allegedly purchased the gun and never recovered the weapon.
“(Tanya) Tyler’s story continuously evolved from ‘I wasn’t there at all’ to ‘Hill did it’,” paralegal Joan Kruckewitt, who provided trial support to Deputy Public Defender Iverson, said.
At trial, Deputy Public Defender Iverson revealed that Tanya Tyler, who has a previous conviction for welfare fraud, received several county reimbursements for child care services that she falsely claimed Hill was providing during the time he was in jail.
“The jury came up with their own theory of the case, ‘How can you tell when a liar is telling the truth?’ The answer to that is, you can’t,” Deputy Public Defender Iverson said, referring to the jury’s reaction to Tanya Tyler’s testimony.
It took less than six hours for the jury to acquit Hill. He faced 25 years to life if convicted.
Hill, who has been in jail since his arrest on May 28, 2008, was released at 12:30 a.m. this morning.
The mission of the Public Defender’s office is to provide vigorous, effective, competent and ethical legal representation to persons who are accused of crime and cannot afford to hire an attorney. Established in 1921, the San Francisco Public Defender has a long, proud history of providing top-notch representation to its clients, and championing programs that help people turn their lives around.