Prosecutor: Criminal investigation of Chiefs’ Hill inactive

Sports

FILE – In this Jan. 18, 2019, file photo, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill talks to the media after a workout in Kansas City, Mo. A criminal investigation into allegations that Kansas City Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill’s son was abused is no longer active but he and his fiancee remain under investigation by Kansas child welfare officials. Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe told The Kansas City Star Friday, June 7, 2019, that he would re-evaluate his decision if new evidence emerges. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A criminal investigation into allegations that Kansas City Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill’s son was abused is no longer active.

Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe told The Kansas City Star Friday he would re-evaluate his decision if new evidence emerges. Howe said he still believes the 3-year-old boy was hurt but he declined in April to file charges because he couldn’t prove who injured the child.

The Chiefs suspended Hill on April 25 after a local television station aired a recording of a conversation between Hill and his fiancee, Crystal Espinal, discussing the boy’s injuries. Hill has consistently maintained his innocence, saying his son’s health is his top priority.

At the time, owner Clark Hunt said he was “deeply disturbed” by the audio recording. Chiefs spokesman Ted Crews said Friday the team would have no new comment on Hill’s situation. Hill has been banned from the team’s offseason voluntary workouts. The Chiefs end their offseason next week with mandatory minicamp.

After the tape emerged in April, Chiefs coach Andy Reid said the criminal investigation was reopened . Howe did not respond when asked if that was true, but Hill’s attorney, Trey Pettlon, said Friday the criminal case has been closed for “quite some time now.”

“Obviously there’s been some misinformation about that, but it is closed,” Pettlon said.

A spokesman for the Kansas Department for Children and Families, Mike Denies, said he could not comment on its ongoing investigation of the couple.

The NFL is investigating the case but Commissioner Roger Goodell said in May it was waiting for permission to interview Hill because the league didn’t want to interfere with the child welfare case. The league could punish Hill under its personal conduct policy.

The investigation began after police were called to Hill’s home twice in March and determined the child had been injured. In the 11-minute audio recording reportedly made by Espinal in an airport in Dubai, she tells Hill when the boy was asked about his injured arm he replied: “Daddy did it.”

Hill denied any role in what happened to the child, saying: “He says Daddy does a lot of things.”

When Espinal tells Hill their son is “terrified of you,” he replies, “You need to be terrified of me, too, bitch.”

In a letter sent to the NFL in May, Pettlon denied that Hill ever hit his son and said Hill was willing to cooperate with the NFL investigation. Pettlon noted the recording was made when the couple was considering a separation. He said the couple was undergoing counseling and Hill is “committed to improving his life and becoming the best parent he can be.”

The Chiefs drafted Hill even though he pleaded guilty in 2015 to domestic assault and battery for attacking Espinal while he was a student at Oklahoma State. He was dismissed from the Oklahoma State football team and ended up playing at West Alabama, where he underwent counseling sessions and other court-mandated service work.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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