Jurors in the trial for the pair charged following the fatal shooting of Constable Matthew Hunt have retired for the night, after more than five hours of deliberating.
They've heard two weeks of evidence at the High Court in Auckland, and must now decide if Eli Epiha, who’s admitted murdering Hunt, is guilty of attempting to kill his partner, Constable David Goldfinch.
The jury must also decide if his co-accused, Natalie Bracken, is guilty of being an accessory after the fact of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
The jury returned to court briefly this afternoon to re-watch CCTV footage, capturing audio of the incident.
The clip from a nearby property’s been replayed several times throughout the trial. In it you can hear Epiha crashing his car, screaming from the wife of the member of the public who was injured, 14 gunshots, and Constable Goldfinch yelling at Epiha to “stop it”.
The 12 jurors also requested access to the large version of a timeline of events.
Late this afternoon, the jury asked the judge if it could re-view some further video evidence, including the mobile phone footage captured by a Massey resident who witnessed the incident.
It's decided to retire for the night and watch the clips in the morning.
In summing up at the High Court in Auckland this morning, Justice Geoffrey Venning told jurors, “the Constables were shot in the course of their work as police officers. That might invoke in you a feeling of prejudice against Mr Epiha”.
But he said any feeling of sympathy for Hunt, Goldfinch and their families, must be set aside.
In closing last week, the Crown argued Epiha meant to shoot and kill a police officer in West Auckland on June 19 last year.
“The Crown says he hits [Goldfinch] an awful lot doesn’t he.
“The Crown also says you can look at what he immediately does to the unarmed Constable Goldfinch … same man, same gun, same person in blue. He didn’t know them,” he said.
But when Epiha was on the witness stand last week, he was adamant he didn’t intend to kill that day.
His lawyer, Mark Edgar, told the court, “Mr Epiha, from the outset, had but one clear intention and that was to get away from the police”.
Goldfinch told the court he had to run for his life to survive.
He testified, “he was going to kill me. There was not a doubt in my mind”.
But Edgar argued, “the focus here has to be on Epiha’s intent, not what the officer believed was happening in Epiha’s mind”.
“He wasn’t hunting the officer,” he said, “he wasn’t trying to make each shot a kill shot”.
“You can’t put in his mind murder when it simply wasn’t there”
The Crown’s argument in regards to Bracken’s charge is that she wasn’t “threatened” by Epiha, as she claimed.
Referring to the mobile phone footage of her unlocking a car and driving Epiha away, Dickey said, “there’s no evidence of that threat in the video. There’s no shoving of the gun at her in the video”.
“She’s just helping him,” he said, saying she had multiple opportunities after the event to assist police.
In regards to her tearful police interview, Dickey suggested, “you might decide she’s crying there about her predicament”.
But in closing, Bracken’s lawyer Adam Couchman, said, “this man with a firearm is saying get me the f*** out of here. What was Miss Bracken supposed to do?”
“She did what any other person could conceivably do, she complied with his requests.”
Bracken told police that she drove Epiha from the scene to “save everyone”, that she thought she was doing the right thing.
Venning told the jury, “it's not in dispute that Mr Epiha killed Constable Hunt and shot Constable Goldfinch, nor is it in dispute Miss Bracken drove him from the scene”.
“The issue for you is whether you are sure Mr Epiha deliberately shot Constable Goldfinch and intended to kill him - and in Ms Bracken's case whether she knew Constable Hunt was grievously wounded and whether she intended to help Mr Epiha avoid arrest and if so, whether there is a reasonable possibility she was acting under compulsion.”
Venning told the jury they needed to consider the murder of Hunt as part their deliberations on the charge of attempting to murder Goldfinch.
The Crown had argued, Venning said, that Epiha had a "particular state of mind” on the day of the shooting.
“Namely, to target the police officers with the intention to kill," he said.
But the judge reminded the jury, Epiha said he pleaded guilty to murdering Hunt, because he accepted he was reckless when firing the weapon.
"He says he is not guilty to the current charge ... as he did not intend to murder Constable Goldfinch," Venning said.
"If that is your finding, then just because Mr Epiha may have killed Constable Hunt, it does not mean he had murderous intent in relation to Constable Goldfinch. But if you agree with the Crown, and consider that when Mr Epiha shot at Constable Hunt he did intend to kill him then that is evidence you can properly take into account in deciding if Mr Epiha had the same murderous intent when he shot at Constable Goldfinch.”