DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) – Closing arguments are over in the trial of an Uber driver who shot and killed a passenger along I-25 near University Boulevard in Denver last summer. Michael Hancock, who is of no relation to Denver’s mayor, claims he shot the victim after he was punched in the face.
After a long day of testimony and closing arguments, the case in now in the hands of jurors. They will return to the courthouse first thing Wednesday morning and begin to decide if Hancock is guilty of 1st or 2nd degree murder.
Hancock, an Uber driver, is accused of shooting and killing his passenger, Hyun Kim. Denver Police said Hancock fired ten rounds from outside the vehicle while Kim was in the passenger seat. Hancock maintains the shooting was in self-defense. He claims Kim, who had a blood alcohol level of .308, hit him in the face during the ride.
On Wednesday, defense attorneys called their final witnesses to the stand. Among them was Denver Police Detective Aaron Lopez and Beatriz Tamariz, a criminal investigator for the defense.
Much of Lopez’s testimony, which took up most of the morning, focused on the things he and the other detective assigned to the case followed up on in the weeks following the shooting. One major point of questioning for attorneys was a witness who called DPD more than 12 hours after the incident, claiming she witnessed Kim hitting Hancock while he was driving.
Lopez told attorneys his partner scheduled a time for the woman to come for an interview, but she didn’t show up and stopped cooperating with the detective’s inquiries.
In closing arguments, prosecutors argued Hancock killed Kim with “intent and deliberation,” rather than being scared for his life and acting in self-defense. They also accused him of altering the crime scene instead of giving Kim aid while first responders rushed to the scene.
In the defense’s closing arguments, attorneys focused on self-defense. They argued it was Hancock’s right as a Colorado citizen to defend himself if he was reasonably scared for his own life. Defense attorneys also highlighted a 2017 complaint by an Uber driver regarding Kim’s behavior. Attorneys said the complaint read that Kim got aggressive because the driver didn’t follow his specific directions.
The judge has already read the jury instructions, so jurors will start deliberating right away on Wednesday.