Getaway driver in Tulsa police shooting sentenced to 24 years in prison

Matthew Hall is convicted of helping David Ware, the suspected shooter, get away after Sgt. Craig Johnson and Officer Aurash Zarkeshan were shot

TULSA, Okla. — Judge Bill Musseman sentenced Matthew Hall to 24 years in prison for his role in the shootings of Tulsa Police Sgt. Craig Johnson and Officer Aurash Zarkeshan last June.

This was the jury’s recommendation: 12 years for each of the two counts of “Accessory after Shooting with Intent to Kill” for being the getaway driver and getting rid of the gun.

Johnson died as a result of his wounds.

“Victim Impact Statements” from his wife and young son.

“Craig Johnson was my dad,” the boy said. “June 30 that all changed.”

He then described what life has been like without his father.

Defense Attorney Brian Martin argued to merge the crimes, dismissing one of the counts, because he said what Hall did was a single, continuous act.

Judge Musseman ruled against that saying that driving the accused killer David Ware away from the scene and then getting rid of the gun were two separate acts. The defense says they will be appealing the decision.

Original Story:

Getaway driver found guilty in Tulsa police shooting case

HALL FOUND GUILTY: We're hearing from the Tulsa County district attorney after a jury found Matthew Hall guilty for his role in the shooting of two Tulsa police officers. DETAILS >>> https://bit.ly/2Pq2D1x

Posted by FOX23 News on Thursday, March 4, 2021

The trial proceedings began Monday with jury selection, which didn’t wrap up until Tuesday afternoon. Witness testimony started and ended Wednesday.

The jury came back with a guilty verdict on Thursday afternoon after about three hours of deliberation.

The jury recommended 12 years of prison for each count against Hall. Formal sentencing is scheduled for March 22.

Defense speaks after guilty verdict

DEFENSE FOR HALL: Defense attorney Brian Martin is speaking after a jury convicted Matthew Hall. DETAILS >>> https://bit.ly/2Pq2D1x

Posted by FOX23 News on Thursday, March 4, 2021

FOX23′s Sara Whaley is covering this trial for FOX23 News. She’ll be watching the court proceedings and leaving live updates here.

LIVE UPDATES CONTINUE BELOW

Jury makes decision

Update 3:55 p.m March 4: Jury finds Matthew Hall guilty on both counts. Recommend 12-year prison sentence on each.

Update 3:39 p.m March 4: Attorneys on both sides say the jury has reached a verdict.

Closing arguments

Update 12:36 p.m March 4: Jury begins deliberation

Update 12:30 p.m March 4: Closing arguments: Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray

  • Did it actually help? Did it work? That is the question the defense is asking you.
  • The defense’s request to you is to filter punishment based on the fact that what Hall did didn’t work.
  • Just because he’s a lousy criminal and what he did didn’t work doesn’t make Hall’s crimes any less shameful.
  • Just because he’s bad at his job as a criminal doesn’t mean what he did wasn’t wrong.
  • Martin told you that all Hall wanted to do that night was stop hurting because of drug withdrawals. I’m pretty sure Officer Zarkeshan and Sgt. Johnson, as they laid on the street that night, wanted to stop hurting too.
  • Matthew Hall had a series of choices to make. When Ware answers the phone call that night and begs for help because the officers were violating his rights, Hall didn’t have to go up there. He knew Ware had a ton of cash, drugs and also a gun.
  • Hall went to the scene where he knew his drug dealer was armed and in a confrontation with police.
  • Not only that. He goes and gets out of his vehicle. What do Hall honestly think he’s going to do?
  • Officer Zarkeshan tells him to get back into his car. He does, but he doesn’t go away. Not fully. He drives around the block. What was his intention? He heard gunshots and he stays in the area. That makes no sense if he isn’t attempting to still figure out a way to help Ware.
  • When Ware jumps into Hall’s jeep, Hall doesn’t take off until he hears sirens. Why?
  • When he does take off. He doesn’t take Ware to his apartment 3 blocks away. Hall takes Ware to his very own home all the way in Broken Arrow.
  • He takes the gun apart and throws it out. Sure, he took police to the frame, but you can’t do ballistics on a gun without the barrel. So how cooperative was he? Not that the cops needed his help anyway.
  • To be clear, just to make sure you don’t fall for the fact that this was a scared drug addict. Hall admitted to taking the sim card out of his phone. That’s a man who not only who wanted to protect a drug dealing cop killer, he wanted to protect himself. He knew what he was doing.
  • This is a series of choices that put a rookie cop in a surgical suite instead of a patrol car and a veteran sergeant in the ground instead of supervising officers. Matthew Hall protected the man who did that.
  • Your verdict better be just. That’s what Zark deserves. That’s what Craig Johnson deserves.

Update 11:48 a.m March 4: Closing arguments: Matthew Hall’s Defense Attorney Brian Martin - Notes:

  • Let’s look at the timeline. Matthew missed his methadone treatment, and he was hurting. He called David Ware because he knew Ware would have heroin.
  • So yes, Hall called David Ware. Ware, who was in a confrontation with officers, told him he needed help because those officers were violating his rights.
  • Matthew shows up to the scene to see what is going on.
  • Officer Zarkeshan tells him to get back into his vehicle.
  • When shots are fired Matt takes off.
  • He circles around and comes back fully expecting to see David Ware on the ground with two officers standing over him.
  • Hall didn’t see Ware until he was already standing at his vehicle.
  • So now Matt was confronted with an armed individual who just shot two cops. What would you do? How would you react? No one ever expects to be in that position.
  • When he found out what Ware did, he just wanted Ware out of his house. There was no elaborate plan. He asked his roommate to get Ware out of there.
  • As far as the gun goes, yes he disassembled it. Kunzweiler says “he’s great with guns.” What if he is? He isn’t a convicted felon. So what?
  • David Ware was already arrested before Matthew Hall was ever taken into custody. So how much really was Matthew an “accessory” to Ware? How much did he actually help?
  • Everyone makes mistakes. Especially in stressful situations. You heard some officers and detectives admit to mistakes in testimony. Mistakes happen.
  • Ask yourself how you would react had you been in Matthew’s situation. Matthew has never even been in trouble. He drove Ware away because he was scared.
  • I am asking you for a minimum sentence. Matthew is walking out of here a convicted felon today no matter what. That is enough. I trust your judgment.

Update 11:27 a.m March 4: Closing arguments: Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweilier - Notes:

  • How do you figure out what a punishment is? I have to think right now you are mulling it over in your heads
  • The crime is called accessory to a felony
  • Those people who find a way to aid a perpetrator should be held accountable according to law
  • Law set the punishment up to 22.5 years for “accessory to felony.”
  • Accessory to a felony could be anything from accessory to concealing stolen property, accessory to embezzlement, accessory or aiding a drug transaction, all the way to something like this. Helping someone when they have shot another person trying to kill that person
  • You must decide which end of the spectrum this situation is
  • There is no prison sentence great enough to deal with what happened to Aurash Zarkeshan or Sgt. Craig Johnson.
  • “Your common sense will tell you these families will be dealing with this the rest of their lives. There is no number that will ever give them back what they have lost.”
  • The defense has already told you his client, Matthew Hall, was guilty because he knew the evidence was going to prove it without a shadow of a doubt.
  • The defense wants you to give Matthew Hall a break because he wasn’t the one who pulled the trigger.
  • He’s not charged with murder. He’s charged with the accessory. That is what you are deciding.
  • When you are assessing this, think about what you know? Law enforcement did not need anything Hall said to charge him with accessory to a felony. You saw it on the video. You saw Hall’s vehicle pulling into the scene.
  • They also didn’t need anything Hall said to make the case against David Ware. It’s all on video as well.
  • Give some thoughts to the second interview. Everything he said, everything the detectives asked. Hall only cooperated with police because he knew he had to. He knew it was his only chance.
  • The defense wants you to believe he is just a sad drug addict who just needed his next fix. Remember this, he dissembled that gun. He knows a lot of about how guns work. Does that just sound like drug addict needing his next fix?
  • The defense wants you to believe he had no choice but to pick up David Ware, that he was scared. That when he found out what Ware did, he wanted him out of his house. He still came up with a plan to get Ware where he needed to go and then to also get rid of the gun.
  • Also, don’t forget that Matthew didn’t come forward on his own. He was arrested and then lied the first time he had a chance to tell police what happened. He tried to deceive the detectives so Ware could get off.
  • “There has to be a consequence for that kind of behavior, and you are here to measure it out.”

Update 10:50 a.m March 4: Jury sits to hear closing arguments.

Prosecution and defense rest, decision expected Thursday

Update 4:09 p.m March 3: The prosecution finished question its witnesses, and the defense called no witnesses to the stand.

Closing arguments are expected at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday followed by jury deliberations and a decision.

Testimony wrapping up

Update 3:31 p.m March 3: Medical Examiner’s Office/Witness - Notes from witness testimony

Update 3:31 p.m March 3: Court takes a break after quick questioning of remaining witnesses.

Detective Matt Farrell, Crime Scene Unit/Witness - Notes from testimony:

  • He was the crime scene detective that went to collect the frame of the gun when it was found.

Cross-examination:

No questions

Witness testimony from Tulsa police homicide unit

Update 3:07 p.m March 3: Detective Jason White, Tulsa Police Homicide Unit/Witness - Notes from witness testimony:

  • Got a call at 4:09 a.m. from Lt. Brandon Watkins saying two officers had been shot and asked him to go to one of two local hospitals.
  • He chose St. Francis.
  • There he interviewed one of the first officers on scene.
  • Served as a liaison between the officers at the hospital and the police chief to help with communication
  • He got information that David Ware had been arrested in the shooting.
  • The day after the shooting, White couldn’t sleep and knew detectives planned to go to look for the gun so he got up early to go. He arrived at the potential location in the rural area where Hall had pointed them around 6:30am on June 30th. That’s when he found part of the gun.
  • White called in the dive team to try and find the other part of the gun in the Arkansas River, but they were unsuccessful.
  • Prosecution shows a series of pictures to show how rural and wooded of an area that Hall went to get rid of the pistol

Cross-examination

  • Martin: It sounds like where your description of the area of the gun was is not an area you are familiar with? White: no
  • Martin: You know Matt told the detectives he dissembled the gun and threw it out? White: yes
  • Martin: is it fair to say if Matthew hadn’t taken you to that location that the frame of the gun would still be out there today? Or at least not with you guys? White: that is very fair to say.

Update 2:25 p.m March 3: Detective Chase Calhoun, Tulsa Police Homicide Detective/Witness - Notes from witness testimony:

  • Was asleep and got a call from Lt. Watkins saying two officers had been shot and he needed help with the investigation.
  • His job was to go to detective division and interview officers.
  • Then started watching body cam and dashcam video of the shooting
  • He then responded to the area of the scene and started looking for possible business or home surveillance video to see what route suspect David Ware may have gone after the shooting. At this point they didn’t know if he left in a car or by foot
  • They found a home one-mile north that had video
  • Red jeep turned west off the street where the shooting happened and into this home’s driveway, turned around and then went back east.
  • They then identified the driver of the red jeep as Matthew Hall.
  • He didn’t see the first interview with Hall
  • Following that interview, Brian Martin was called and asked if he would be interested in representing Mr. Hall. Martin agreed. Hall was then asked if he would agree to have Martin represent him. He agreed to. Martin and Hall then were able to meet in private.
  • Hall, then with Martin, agreed to a second interview.
  • Prosecution playing that interview. Hall truthfully telling detectives what happened.
  • Hall said when Ware got into his truck he was yelling, didn’t tell him what had happened.
  • When they got to Hall’s house, Hall said Ware told him he shot at two officers. That is when Hall told him to get out of his house. Hall’s roommate drove Ware to 31st and Garnett area.
  • Hall admitted to driving Ware away in the red Jeep.
  • Hall admitted that he called Ware during the confrontation with the officers and he heard some of what was going on.
  • He admitted to disassembling the gun and getting rid of it.
  • End of interview, back to questioning.
  • Calhoun says after the interview, Hall took them to a rural county road between Coweta and Haskell near the Arkansas River, southeast of Tulsa. This was late on June 29th so it was dark. Hall pointed out a road where he got rid of part of the gun. They created a light curtain to highlight the road. They walked the area, but they weren’t able to find the pistol.
  • They marked the location. The next morning, detectives went back out and found a portion of the pistol.

Cross-Examination

  • Martin: did you find significant criminal history? Calhoun: He doesn’t recall that
  • Martin: With regards to second interview, Matthew told you his roommate drove David Ware away from the house? Matthew told you where he discarded the gun? Calhoun: yes
  • Martin: So where he told you it was, you found it? Calhoun: yes
  • Martin: based on where you found the gun is it safe to say that you would not have found the gun without Matt’s help? Calhoun: yes, for sure.
  • Martin asks a series of follow-up questions in which Calhoun replies in a way that Martin can show Hall was compliant and helpful in the investigation against Ware.

Update 2:20 p.m March 3: Court returns from break

Update 1:13 p.m March 3: Court breaks for lunch

Lead homicide detective gives testimony

Update 12:09 p.m March 3: Tulsa Police Homicide Detective Lt. Brandon Watkins - Notes from witness:

  • He was asleep at the time and was woken up with a call from dispatch giving him the location of the place where two officers had been injured.
  • When he got to the scene David Ware had already been identified as the suspect through Zarkeshan’s body camera.
  • Ware’s photo was released and Chief Wendell Franklin had made an all-call to the department for officers to come in and help find him.
  • Watched Zark’s body camera video and confirmed Ware was the shooting suspect.
  • Later in the day, the dash camera video became available. Watched that, said it depicted what happened.
  • Prosecution shows the dash camera video of the shooting
  • Red Jeep Liberty enters the scene as a confrontation is going on between David Ware and the officers.
  • Watkins did not know at the time who the jeep belonged to. He said he now knows it belonged to Matthew Hall and identified who Hall was in the courtroom.
  • “The vehicle is going to pull up in front of ware’s vehicle and stop 15-20 yards ahead of it.”
  • He identified Hall as the man in the dashcam video who got out of the jeep.
  • Watkins identifies brake lights seen in the video turning left are those of the jeep Hall was driving. As the video plays, Watkins says the vehicle that turns around and comes back is the same jeep.
  • The lights then move away once again, indicating the jeep has left. Shortly after you can hear sirens on the dashcam video.
  • Watkins says they had the name “Matt” from the call David Ware was making during the argument with the officer on the body camera video. Because of that, they started looking for associates of Ware with the name of Matt. The FBI traced the number of the person who Ware was calling during the confrontation and came up with the name of “Matthew Hall.” Investigation showed Hall did have a red Jeep Liberty.
  • Hall, once in custody, waived his Miranda Rights and agreed to talk with detectives around 2:30 p.m. on June 29. Playing that interview.
  • In the interview, Hall tells detectives that he was asleep and officers woke him up when they came to his house. He said he didn’t know anything about the incident. He said he didn’t know why his car would be at the scene or why Ware would have called his phone.

Cross-Examination of Lt. Watkins

  • Martin to Watkins, “This one hit close to home?” Watkins replied, “yes.”
  • Martin: I don’t want you to think I’m playing games on who was in the Jeep. You and I both know Matthew Hall was in the jeep. Watkins: “yes”.
  • Martin: Did Hall do what Officer Zarkeshan asked him to do by getting back into his jeep? Watkins: yes.
  • Martin: Were you made aware of Matthew’s arrest? Was he compliant with the officers? Watkins: Yes
  • Martin: Did you get to see his second interview? Yes. Would you agree he lied the first time? Yes. Martin then addresses the fact that multiple other people lied in the investigation as well.

Second witness takes the stand

Update 12 p.m March 3: Lt. Stephen Stoltz, Major Crimes Unit/Witness - Notes from witness testimony:

  • He was off when it happened.
  • Got a call from another detective. “He was slightly frantic and said there had been an officer-involved shooting.”
  • “When he told me that the first thing that came to mind was that it was an officer who shot somebody. He then told me two officers had been shot.”
  • He reported to the shooting scene at 4 a.m.
  • His job was to preserve the scene to protect anything of evidentiary value.
  • They examine anything that could be potential evidence by taking pictures and having another detective walk through the scene and video it. They then place markers next to the evidence. They then photograph each item with its marker. They then measure each item of evidence. They then collect each item, bag it and then take it to the detective division to log it into the computer. Each piece of evidence is logged individually.
  • The process took about 7 hours.
  • The prosecution shows some of the photographs of the evidence.
    • Multiple pictures showing the streets and the location of all vehicles, particularly all angles showing Sgt. Johnson, Officer Zarkehsan’s and the civilian’s vehicle (Chevy Cobalt).
    • Closeup pictures of Cobalt. Johnson’s vest, a flashlight, wallet and cartridge casings on the ground beside it on back, left side of vehicle.
    • Even closer photograph of items.
    • Items 6,7,9,10,12,13,14,15 all were .40 caliber cartridge casings.
    • Item 8 a wallet
    • Item 21, a pistol magazine
  • No cross-examination of the witness

Update 10:55 a.m March 3: Court taking a break

First witness gives testimony

Update 10:50 a.m March 3: Tulsa Police Officer Kurth Sires - Notes from witness testimony:

  • On patrol at the time with the Mingo Valley Division in the David Squad
  • As I am approaching, I can see two officers down. One on the east side of the road and one on the west.
  • It sounds weird, but it sounded like a bad joke to me. There is no way we are pulling up on this.
  • Officer Staggs went to the east side, Officer Sires went to the west side. He found Zark laying face down. He rolled him over.
  • I could see a defect to the forehead, blood, swelling.
  • He started trying to take Zark’s body armor off when he realized Zark had been shot.
  • He said he knew it was bad, and he knew he had to figure out where the shooter was. So, he took off his body camera as well.
  • Sires said he and Zark did have a few miscommunications throughout the process because the environment was so intense.
  • Officers worked together to get the video from the camera to figure out who their suspect was. Zark was able to provide his pin number so they could access his video.

Cross-Examination of Sires

  • Martin only makes the point that this scene, even with Sire’s experience, caused a great deal of stress for him. To the point where he made a couple of mistakes.

Opening Statements Begin

Update 10:30 a.m March 3: Matthew Hall’s defense attorney Brian Martin made his opening statement next.

Here are highlights from Martin’s statement:

  • “First thing, I am big supporter of Tulsa Police,” Martin said.
  • “I wore a badge for 8 years in New Mexico.”
  • Kunzweiler gave a good speech, but it’s not entirely accurate, according to Martin.
  • Martin explaining to the jury what happened early on June 29th, 2020:
    • Officer Zarkeshan had every reason to stop David Ware
    • You will see Matt’s vehicle pull up on the left side. You will see him stop about 20 yards in front of Ware’s vehicle. Matt exits his vehicle. Zarkeshan diverts his attention for a second to tell Hall to go back to his vehicle and he does.
    • When shots are fired you will see Matt’s vehicle take off. Matt said he circled back around and fully expected to see the two officers over Ware.
    • Instead, he said Ware was right there by his vehicle in a matter of seconds.
    • He said he was scared and didn’t know what to do when a guy who had just shot two cops, and still had a gun, jumped into his vehicle. So he took Ware to his home.
    • “I had to get him the [expletive] out of my house.”
    • His roommate gives Ware a ride to the area of 31st and Garnett. Hall didn’t know exactly where.
    • Martin said his client told him he wanted nothing to do with this. The gun was in his house, and so he took it and threw it out.
    • Hall cooperated with the police and even helped them to find a portion of the gun used.
    • This case is not about if he did what he is accused of doing, it’s about what the appropriate punishment will be.

Update 10:01 a.m March 3: Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler kicked off opening statements.

Here are highlights from Kunzweiler’s opening statement:

  • Officer Zarkeshan only 26 years old
  • Sgt. Craig Johnson only 45 years old.
  • Both pledged to serve, with their lives if need be.
  • The officers’ choice was to go protect the community. Other adults in this incident made choices too.
  • Kunzweiler explaining to the jury what happened early on June 29th, 2020:
    • Chevy Cobalt pulls out in front of the Rookie Officer Aurash Zarkeshan and drives erratically.
    • Officer Zarkeshan pulls him over.
    • Sgt. Johnson comes to back him.
    • Zark and Johnson suspect the man in the vehicle, David Ware a felon, has a gun, but they don’t know that for sure.
    • There are two people who did know Ware had a gun. Ware, and the only other man involved in the incident, Matthew Hall.
    • Hall chose to drive Ware away with both officers laying in the street with gunshot wounds to the head. Johnson did not survive.
    • When choices are made, consequences will follow.
    • “I am confident from the evidence, you will see what happens in the video,” Kunzweiler said.
    • Later, when all hands were on deck to find the man responsible for the shootings, Hall was the only one who knew where Ware was.
    • “You will not have no doubt whether this guy aided David Ware, Kunzweiler said. “We are going to prove this case with overwhelming evidence.”

Update 9:44 a.m March 3: The jury has been brought up to be sworn-in in court. Opening statements are expected to begin at or around 10 a.m.

Check this story for updates as the trial progresses.

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