Fallen officer's family disappointed in jury's verdict

Family members of a Yuma Department of Public Safety Officer killed when his patrol car was hit by a semi-truck in 2013, are disappointed that a jury did not convict the driver of a second-degree murder charge Friday.

Prosecutors said the truck driver was on his cell phone and not paying attention to the road when he hit and killed the officer.

Instead of second-degree murder, a jury convicted the truck driver of negligent homicide, meaning he did not intend to kill the officer, but acted recklessly.

It's a much light sentence. A second-degree murder charge would have carried a sentence of up to 25 years in prison, how he's facing between 4 to 8 years in prison for killing Officer Tim Huffman in 2013.

The entire incident was captured by two cameras in the truck that Jorge Espinoza was driving. The officer's twin brother Warren Huffman says the family is disappointed with the verdict.

"I feel let down, I think justice could have been more than what we received today," said Warren Huffman.

Officer Huffman was writing a report at an accident scene on Interstate 8 when his patrol car was rear-ended by the tractor-trailer rig driven by Espinoza.

Espinoza's defense team says he was blinded by the sun, and DPS did not have adequate signage at the accident scene.

The jury did find Espinoza guilty on six counts of endangerment and criminal damage in connection with the crash that destroyed to other DPS patrol cars in addition to Huffman's.

The officer's family is looking towards sentencing and hoping for an apology from the truck driver.

"I think our whole family would appreciate seeing some kind of motion like that, I think if he made an apology I think everybody would listen to him, that does not mean he's forgiven, but I think people would listen to him," said Warren.

Officer Huffman's family say they will continue to fight for a texting and driving ban in the state. The family was at the Capitol Thursday testifying in front of lawmakers who are considering a ban that would restrict people from sending text messages.

The law, if passed, would not ban reading messages or using navigational devices.
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