Fort Worth, TX – A Tarrant County jury deliberated for only an hour on Monday before convicting a member of a robbery crew of the 2018 murder of Fort Worth Police Officer Garrett Hull.
Although Timothy Huff did not fire the bullet that struck Officer Hull in the head on Sept. 14, 2018, the jury determined he was still legally responsible for the killing due to his role in an armed robbery that preceded the deadly confrontation, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
Huff faces a sentence of either life in prison or the death penalty as a result of his capital murder conviction.
His trial was initially slated to begin on May 31, but it was postponed for a week after Huff swallowed a razor blade, KXAS reported.
Officer Hull was one of several undercover officers who were conducting surveillance on a group of three robbery suspects beginning at around midnight on Sept. 14, 2018, WFAA reported at the time.
The trio, which dubbed themselves “the Cantina Bandits,” were suspected of carrying out a string of at least 17 robberies over a period of several months, most of which targeted Hispanic-operated businesses, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
As the officers were surveilling the group, the crew went inside the Vaquero Sports Bar in the Worth Heights area of the city and proceeded to rob the patrons, WFAA reported.
According to a witness, the trio stormed into the establishment wearing masks and brandishing guns.
They ordered everyone to hit the floor, then took the customers’ cellphones and wallets.
The suspects were fleeing the scene when uniformed and undercover officers confronted them.
Officer Hull was chasing one of the suspects, later identified as Dacion Steptoe, when Steptoe shot him in the head on a driveway on May Street, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
Another officer at the scene returned fire, killing Steptoe.
“In their attempt to try to apprehend the three people that were robbing the bar, one of the people exchanged gunfire with my officers and that gunfire struck one of the officers in his forehead,” then-Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald said during a press conference shortly after the shooting.
Officer Hull, a 17-year veteran of the force, was rushed to John Peter Smith Hospital in a fellow officer’s patrol vehicle.
“In the midst of it… the officers involved in the active scene actually extricated the officer who was struck in the head and got him here to JPS Hospital,” Chief Fitzgerald said.
No one inside the bar was injured during the shootout, the chief said.
Officer Hull succumbed to his injuries at approximately 9:40 that night.
“We’ve lost a true hero,” Chief Fitzgerald said after the officer’s death, according to Dallas News. “Someone that has dedicated more than one tour of service to this great city was senselessly killed by three known criminals, two of which are in custody now.”
Investigators said the crew was responsible for “numerous armed robberies” in the area, and that three other people had also been shot during the commission of their earlier offenses.
Steptoe was out of prison on an early release at the time of Officer Hull’s murder, and was never returned to prison despite having been arrested two times earlier in the year while on parole, KXAS reported.
Huff was found hiding in a yard after the armed robbery and was carrying black gloves, a gun, and a stolen purse filled with cash when he was arrested, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
The third suspect, Samuel Mayfield, has also been charged with capital murder.
Mayfield’s trial is still pending, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
“This case is textbook for how someone is guilty of capital murder even when they didn’t pull the trigger,” Prosecutor Timothy Rodgers told the jury during the closing arguments of Huff’s trial.
Rodgers said Huff was well aware that the crew’s violent crimes could result in someone’s death, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
Huff even told investigators during an interrogation that he told his partners not to shoot anyone before they stormed the bar that night.
“Whatever you gonna do, don’t shoot anybody,” Huff said, according to police.
Officer Hull’s wife, Sabrina Hull, testified that her husband had expressed concern about his own safety while they were talking about the case about a week before his murder, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
“These guys are really dangerous, babe,” he said at the time, according to Sabrina Hull.
She testified that her husband admitted he was worried, and that he told her what song he’d like her to play at his funeral in the event he was killed, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
“He felt like there was going to be a shooting,” she said, according to WFAA. “And I was like, ‘Don’t put that in the universe. I don’t want to talk about that.’ He said, ‘Well, we need to talk about these things.”
The penalty phase of Huff’s trial is expected to last into Wednesday.
The Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office is seeking the death penalty, KXAS reported.