FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The man accused of shooting a Broward Sheriff's Office deputy last year has been convicted of attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer.
David Maldonado, 25, could face life in prison when he is sentenced in December.
A jury deliberated for 3½ hours before reaching a decision in the case. The victim, Deputy Maury Hernandez, and his family embraced when the word came down. After four days of testimony and 13½ months of rehabilitation, it was the first sense of justice they've been able to enjoy.
"I definitely feel it's just," Hernandez told Local 10's Roger Lohse. "I feel the justice system has come out on top on this one."
Hernandez was shot in the head in August 2007 after confronting Maldonado for speeding on Pembroke Road in Hollywood. Investigators found a .45-caliber handgun with Maldonado?s blood on it at the scene and two spent bullet casings nearby. They even had two witnesses to the shooting, including Hernandez himself.
Despite the evidence against his client, Maldonado's attorney, Alex Arreaza, argued that the state couldn't prove the bullet fragments in Hernandez's head came from Maldonado's gun. Their defense was based on Hernandez's testimony that doctors told him he'd been shot with a hollow-point bullet. The rounds in Maldonado's gun were full-metal-jacket bullets.
Lohse asked Maldonado's attorney how Hernandez was shot if Maldonado didn't pull the trigger.
"You know, there are a lot of theories, but I don't know where that hollow-point bullet came from," Arreaza said.
Arreaza also pointed out that the gun Hernandez was carrying was armed with hollow-point bullets, but ballistics experts said his weapon was fully loaded and had never been fired.
"It was a bunch of lies," Hernandez told Lohse. "They had to say something, and now a jury of our peers agrees that it was a bunch of lies."
Hernandez is not yet back to work. He undergoes physical therapy every day and is making progress, but it's unclear when, or if, he'll ever be able to return to the road.
Maldonado was also convicted of attempted robbery for his effort after the shooting to force a couple out of an SUV so he could get away. His sentencing is scheduled for December.
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