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Pasco man is guilty of trying to kill 3 police officers

By Annette Cary Tri-City Herald

A jury found Edwin Espejo guilty Tuesday afternoon of trying to kill three police officers.

The Pasco man was convicted of three counts of attempted first-degree murder after he shot at the officers who responded to a domestic violence call at his home in September 2017.

The officers shot back and he was wounded but survived.

The Franklin County Superior Court jurors also found Espejo guilty of illegal gun possession, but they deadlocked on two other charges of fourth-degree assault with domestic violence and interfering with the reporting of domestic violence.

A date for sentencing is expected to be set at a hearing on March 19. He faces 62 to 78 years in prison, said the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office.

The sentence includes gun enhancements on each count of attempted murder.

Refused police commands

Three officers responded to a domestic violence call to Espejo’s basement home made by his teenage nephew on a Saturday night.

Three officers went down the wooden stairs with their guns drawn to find Espejo, now 32, on a mattress in a cramped basement room on South Ninth Avenue.

After hearing Espejo express his love to three of his kids and tell them goodbye, Griffin ordered the man to show his hands – both for his own safety and that of the officers.

According to police reports, officers convinced Espejo to send three of his children outside.

But Espejo, a convicted felon, didn’t listen to the Officer Matt Griffin’s repeated demands, according to Deputy Prosecutor Dave Corkrum in his opening statement to jurors.

Espejo was near a pistol and told Griffin, Officer John D’Aquila and Reserve Officer David Dillsworth that he wasn’t going back to jail, according to Corkrum.

Espejo stood up and took off his shirt like he wanted to fight the officers, continuing to ignore Griffin’s orders.

Gun emptied at officers

Griffin decided to hit Espejo with a Taser shock.

But after the probes failed to make a good connection, Espejo fell back onto the bed and grabbed a .45 caliber Ruger, Corkrum said.

Then the officers saw a muzzle flash in the dimly lit basement.

“Gun! Got a gun,” Griffin shouted.

Espejo fired all seven bullets from his pistol, missing the officers but coming close enough to pierce the leg of D’Aquila’s pants near his ankle.

“Unloading the gun until you couldn’t fire anymore, that’s the intent of murder,” Corkrum told the jury.

The officers shot a total of 21 rounds, hitting Espejo several times in the lower half of his body.

He would have bled to death if it weren’t for the lifesaving measures of the three officers that Espejo tried to kill that night, Corkrum said.

Guilty of jailhouse attack

While awaiting trial for the shooting, Espejo was sentenced to eight months in jail for attacking a fellow Franklin County inmate.

He was convicted in August of attacking Richard Vasquez, who later pleaded guilty to rape and leading police on a high-speed chase.

Espejo and two other inmates severely beat Vazquez in a jail cell in June, according to court records. Espejo said he was innocent in the attack, but a jury found him guilty of assault.

The father of six had a history of domestic disputes involving his wife. His convictions in Washington state included obstructing an officer, fourth-degree assault with domestic violence and felony assault in violation of a no-contact order.

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