Defense lawyer Gary Hill arrested on assault charge; his attorney says no weapon found
by Sito Negron
Posted on July 22, 2009
According to police spokesman Chris Mears, Hill was accused of pulling a handgun after a minor traffic accident at about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday in the 800 block of N. El Paso.
"He was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one count of interference with an emergency call," Mears said. "I'm not in front of computer but that would mean he somehow tried to prevent person from calling 911."
Mears said that Hill was arrested at the scene of the accident.
Hill's lawyer, Richard Esper, said that "Mr. Hill will eventually be exonerated of these charges."
He said police searched Hill, his car, and his office, in front of which the incident occurred, and found no weapon.
"They took every step the secure the location of the gun. That included searching Mr. Hill, that included searching his vehicle, they even came and sealed off his office for about three hours and wouldn’t let anyone in or out. I believe Mr. Hill ultimately said go ahead and search ... someone could not have left the office with a weapon (because) they sealed it off," Esper said. "So it (the charge) strains credulity."
While the officer had discretion to make the arrest anyway, the district attorney's office still must decide whether or not to accept the charge and prosecute.
"Any type of aggravated assault involving a weapon, there has to of course be a weapon, and there is none in this case to my knowledge," Esper said. "Whether the case proceeds in that fashion, that's not my decision that's up to the district attorney's office."
Esper said the incident occurred in the parking lot of Hill's offices, where Esper also has an office. The other person was backing out of a spot and hit Hill's car.
"Words were exchanged ... The next thing that happened a bunch of police officers were there and the individual was making accusations," Esper said. "The police officers made the decision to go ahead and arrest him."
Hill, who is considered one of El Paso's top criminal defense lawyers, has been in the news frequently for his defense in various cases, including:
-- He is the lawyer of record for Judge Manuel Barraza, who was indicted on corruption charges and arrested in early April.
-- He defended Jeannie Coutta, one of the co-owners of the Naked Harem, who was charged with running prostitution in her club. The judge in the case declared a mistrial in late June.
-- Another client of his, Eric Michael Sanchez, 24, was acquitted of murder and aggravated assault charges in February, stemming from stabbing death in 2007 of Gabriel Lopez II.
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