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Uber driver enters not guilty plea in the shooting death of a passenger

Michael Hancock has pleaded not guilty to shooting and killing a passenger during an in-app ride. His defense attorneys have said what occurred was self-defense.

KUSA — Uber driver Michael Hancock pleaded not guilty Friday in his first-degree murder case. Hancock is accused of shooting his passenger on a Denver highway in June.

Prosecutors allege Hancock shot passenger Hyun Kim multiple times while the pair drove on Interstate 25 through Denver in the pre-dawn hours of June 1. Hancock allegedly fired 10 shots at close range, striking Kim six times, including once in the chest and back, according to an autopsy report. Kim had several gunshot wounds to his legs.

He died as a result of gunshot wounds to the trunk and extremities, according to the coroner's report. His death was ruled a homicide.

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Prosecutors have charged Hancock with first-degree murder after deliberation. Trial has been set for April 1, and is scheduled to last five days.

At the arraignment hearing Friday, Hancock appeared in a green jail jumpsuit, his hair shorn of the dreadlocks that appear in his booking photo.

Hancock waived a formal reading and advisement of charges. His attorney Luke Levulis entered the not guilty plea on behalf of his client.

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A probable cause statement issued in June says a witness near the on-ramp of I-25 and University called 911 a little before 2 a.m. on June 1. That witness said an Uber driver told him his rider tried to attack him and he shot him.

According to the court record, the witness handed the phone to the Uber driver, who identified himself as Michael Hancock.

The report says police found Kim on the floorboard of the front passenger seat suffering from gunshot wounds.

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Kim, 45, had a blood alcohol content level of nearly four times the legal limit for driving, according to the autopsy report released in July. The coroners' report says Kim's blood alcohol content was 0.308. The legal limit for driving in Colorado is 0.08 percent.

Many questions remain unanswered about the time Hancock and Kim spent together and the events that led to the shooting.

A homicide detective testified in an earlier hearing that Hancock picked up Kim on Parker Road in Aurora and drove him to his destination, also in Aurora. But instead of dropping Kim off, Hancock continued to drive.

Eventually Hancock and Kim were driving southbound on I-25, and Kim was dead, slumped on the floorboards of Hancock’s passenger seat.

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