Defense tries to imply Otis McKane’s ex-girlfriend prevented him from visiting with their son

Saharia Hill cross-examined by defense attorney over her interpretation of court orders

KSAT court reporter Erica Hernandez has the latest from Day 15 of the Otis McKane trial.

SAN ANTONIO – Editor’s note: KSAT is livestreaming the entire trial of Otis McKane here. Get a daily recap like this one sent to your inbox by signing up for the free Open Court newsletter.

The ex-girlfriend of a man convicted of killing a San Antonio police detective was cross-examined on the witness stand Tuesday by the defense in an apparent effort to show that she may have prevented the defendant from visiting with their son.

Saharia Hill returned to the witness stand for a second day in the capital murder trial of Otis McKane, who was convicted of fatally shooting Det. Benjamin Marconi. Hill testified that after meeting McKane in 2009, she had a baby boy in June 2010.

Hill said her relationship with McKane was “rocky” and littered with problems and therefore they could not raise their child together. A court order was issued that outlined child visitation rights for McKane and child support payments. McKane was allowed to see his son on the first, third and fifth weekends monthly and was ordered to pay $223 for child support monthly.

Saharia Paillett-Hill testifies at the capital murder trial of Otis McKane. (KSAT)

Hill testified that McKane at first “really wanted to see his son and wanted to prove that he could be a good father.” But McKane had a hard time doing that because he couldn’t hold a steady job, Hill said.

Those issues led to a few incidents where the defendant got violent with Hill, she testified. One of those incidents led to McKane being jailed on a family violence charge in January 2012, and he was sentenced to 60 days in jail.

Hill sought protection from McKane, and a judge issued a protective order to prevent the defendant from getting close to Hill and their son. Hill testified that because she was afraid of McKane, she limited the visits to public places and didn’t allow him to take their son away for weekends.

Defense attorney Joel Perez showed Hill a copy of the protective order and asked her whether the document indicated that McKane no longer had visitation rights under the court order. Hill agreed with Perez that it didn’t.

But the prosecution argued that the protective order limited the visits to a public place and required supervision due to family violence. The prosecution also showed documents listing child support payments from McKane. The documents showed that the defendant failed to pay child support for months and at one point owed nearly $10,000 in back child support.

Perez argued that the protective order didn’t indicate that McKane could be denied from seeing his son. He asked Hill if she understood that, and she said, “yes.”

“The remedy is not to keep the child away from his father,” Perez told her.

The prosecution called a fellow SAPD officer to the witness stand who planned on talking about his relationship with Det. Benjamin Marconi. But the prosecution objected to the witness because the defense argued about whether victim impact statements should be allowed in the trial.

“The Supreme Court has said this is the opportunity to humanize Benjamin Marconi now that he (McKane) has been convicted,” said prosecutor Mario Del Prado.

Defense attorney Raymond Fuchs countered by saying, “This is also where the prosecution has requested a charge to be given to the jury to conduct or base their decision on a kind of sympathy or anything like that. That’s purely what this is.”

Judge Ron Rangel ruled that the impact statements will be allowed when the trial resumes at 9 a.m. on Wednesday in the 379th District Court. Those scheduled to make statements include the officer and members of Marconi’s family.

The jury only has two choices for McKane’s punishment -- death by lethal injection or life in prison without parole.

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About the Authors:

David Ibañez has been managing editor of KSAT.com since the website's launch in October 2000.

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with more than 12 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter.