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Eli Epiha trial: Jurors begin second day of deliberations for man who killed Constable Matthew Hunt
July 26, 2021
Jurors at the trial of Eli Bob Sauni Epiha, convicted of killing one police officer and accused of attempting to murder another, began their second day of deliberations by re-watching two videos that were earlier submitted as evidence.
Epiha, 25, and co-defendant Natalie Jane Bracken, 31, have been on trial for just over two weeks.
Bracken is accused of being an accessory after the fact to wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm — the result of her driving Epiha from the West Auckland neighbourhood where he shot the two officers and injured a bystander on June 19, 2020.
Epiha, meanwhile, has already pleaded guilty to the murder of Constable Matthew Hunt, who was 28, and to dangerous driving causing the injury to the bystander, who was loading the boot of his car when he was injured.
But Epiha testified that he didn’t mean to kill anyone that day. He’s guilty of Hunt’s murder only because he was reckless, he claims.
In addition to deciding Bracken’s fate, jurors are charged with deciding if Epiha is guilty of attempted murder involving the injuries of Constable David Goldfinch, who was hit with four bullets. They also have the option of instead finding Epiha guilty of a lesser charge — wounding with reckless disregard.
Justice Geoffrey Venning sent the jurors out to begin deliberating at 11am on Monday. Since then, the group has twice asked to review CCTV and cellphone footage. The first request was for CCTV footage from a backyard that provided audio of the 14 shots Epiha fired, as well as someone appearing to yell “Woo!” moments before the shootings.
The second request, made just before 5pm on Monday after six hours of deliberation, was for a witness’ cellphone footage of Epiha and Bracken driving away from the scene and for CCTV footage of the pair arriving at a home a short time later.
Instead of playing those videos on Monday evening, the second request was fulfilled first thing this morning before jurors returned to their closed-door discussions.