‘He threatened to kill me’: Otis McKane’s ex-girlfriend testifies against him in capital murder trial

Saharia Hill describes physical, verbal relationship during punishment phase in trial of defendant convicted of killing SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi

Watch: Recap from Day 14 of the Otis McKane trial
Watch: Recap from Day 14 of the Otis McKane trial

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A man convicted of killing a San Antonio police detective was described in court Monday as a bad father, an abusive boyfriend and a drug dealer.

The prosecution attacked the character of Otis McKane during the punishment phase of his capital murder trial. McKane was convicted last week of fatally shooting SAPD Det. Benjamin Marconi execution-style in Marconi’s patrol car in front of Public Safety Headquarters in November 2016.

Saharia Paillett-Hill, McKane’s ex-girlfriend and the mother of their son, testified that the defendant was physically and mentally abusive toward her.

Paillett-Hill told jurors that her relationship with McKane prior to having her baby as “so-so” and that she “didn’t pick up on red flags.”

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She said she met McKane through a mutual friend in 2009 and got pregnant that same year. Paillett-Hill testified that she gave birth to a boy in June of 2010 and that McKane showed up at the hospital complaining about the birth.

“He’s white-skinned. He doesn’t look like me. (He) had doubts whether my child was his,” Paillett-Hill told jurors. McKane demanded to take a paternity test, which proved that the child was indeed his.

Paillett-Hill told jurors that after the child was born, 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.

Paillett-Hill testified that she and McKane didn’t live together because she “didn’t think it was a good idea at all … wasn’t worth it.”

She said that McKane grew angrier with her, accusing her of cheating on him, and at one point grabbed her cellphone and questioned her contacts.

Paillett-Hill testified that she eventually had to get a protective order against McKane in January 2012 after what she described as “one of the most scariest incidents” in her life.

Erica Hernandez reports on Day 14 of the Otis McKane trial
Erica Hernandez reports on Day 14 of the Otis McKane trial

She told jurors that she was driving a car, with McKane riding in the front passenger seat and their baby in the back, when the couple got into a big disagreement. At one point, McKane grabbed the steering wheel and wanted to crash the car, Paillett-Hill said.

“He was so angry and frustrated that he threatened to kill me,” she said. “I was terrified for my life and my son.”

Paillett-Hill recorded the incident on her cellphone, which the jurors heard.

“I’ll kill you,” a man whose voice she said was McKane’s was heard.

Paillett-Hill told jurors about an incident in the parking lot of a Walmart, where McKane confronted her about $20 she owed him. When she told McKane that she needed to go home to get the money, he didn’t like it and attacked her, she said.

He actually hit me … on the face. He was choking me with his hands. I was scared. I was terrified,” Paillett-Hill testified.

McKane was found guilty of family violence in January 2012 for the incident and was sentenced to 60 days in jail.

Paillett-Hill described an incident at a McDonald’s in 2014 where McKane was there for a public visitation with his son.

She said that things quickly escalated verbally to the point where she called her father, Larry Hill, for help. Hill arrived to find McKane running around the parking lot with the child in his arms.

“I was pursuing him because he wouldn’t let my grandson go. He was crying,” Hill told jurors.

When he asked McKane to give up the boy, he refused, Hill said.

“(McKane) didn’t do it until I got him in a headlock,” Hill said.

Paillett-Hill also told jurors about a big gap in child support payments from McKane and that she and her son didn’t see him for about three years.

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Williamson testified about text messages from 36 different phone numbers that proved evidence of drug-dealing and drug-buying. He testified that the text messages showed that McKane was selling marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other drugs.

The defense countered that McKane was not a big time drug dealer and suggested that he was recreational user and a low-level seller.

The trial will resume at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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.