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Uber driver accused of killing passenger takes stand, gets emotional during court testimony

Michael Hancock is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of Hyun Kim last year on Interstate 25 in Denver.

DENVER — Closing arguments are expected to begin Tuesday afternoon in the case involving an Uber driver who's accused of fatally shooting his passenger on Interstate 25 last year, according to an update from the Denver District Attorney's Office.

Michael Hancock's trial began last week. He's accused of shooting and killing 45-year-old Hyun Kim on I-25 near the University Boulevard exit in June 2018.

Hancock took the stand to testify Monday morning to tell a jury his story of what led to the shooting death of Kim. Hancock, who pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the case last November, said Kim attacked him during the in-app ride last year.

While on the witness stand, photos of the victim in his car were shown. Hancock looked away from the photo and became choked up. He also cried on the stand when the 911 call from the night of the shooting was played. 

Several members of Kim's family, who were also in the courtroom, cried as the photos were shown.

When Hancock was asked if he was in fear for his life when he saw Kim reach for something, he said, "100 percent."

Investigators found only a wallet and cigarettes in Kim's pockets. 

Hancock also said Kim was making sexual advances while the two were in the car, telling a jury that it seemed like Kim was being flirtatious. 

Hancock told the jury his intent was not to kill Kim but to, "eliminate the threat."

He had a concealed weapons permit. 

During opening statements last week, prosecutors and the defense painted different pictures of Hancock.

>> The video above is from the day of opening statements of the trial

Prosecutor Philip Reinert told a jury that Hancock is guilty of murder in the first degree after shooting his passenger in the back from outside the car. He argued this was not a case of self-defense.

RELATED: Murder trial underway for Uber driver accused of killing passenger

Hancocks's defense, however, described a family man who worked at a youth home mentoring young men. Defense attorney Johnna Stuart said Hancock, whose family calls him "Mikey," had worked for Uber for four years and chose to drive at night so he wouldn't miss time with his family. 

Credit: Courtesy Kim Family/Corboy & Demetrio

After Hancock testified Monday, the defense continued calling witnesses including several longtime friends that knew him from the church community. 

Four men and one woman, several of which had known Hancock for about 10 years, testified about his character saying they had never seen him be violent, that he has a big heart and is a peacekeeper, often putting others before himself. 

One of those friends, Roy Dockery said he and Hancock had bonded over music, specifically Christian hip-hop and that Hancock "was always focused toward art, making music about peace, hope, and faith."

Prosecutors during cross-examination reiterated that none of these friends had seen Hancock the night he's accused of killing Kim. 

Prosecutors allege Hancock fired 10 shots at close range, striking Kim six times, including once in the chest and back, according to an autopsy report.

RELATED: Parents of Uber driver accused of shooting, killing passenger say he was defending himself

Hancock's defense also called on Guy Rossi, an expert in defense and safety.

Rossi testified about "use of force" and "speed of encounters;" specifically the time it takes to pull the trigger which, citing studies and his own reenactments, takes 1/4 of a second. 

Rossi also said that the number of shots fired does not correlate to excessive force.

Hancock's defense team has previously argued he fired shots after Kim attacked him. Kim's blood alcohol was nearly four times the legal limit of alcohol intoxication for driving.

Hancock is not related to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

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