Legal analysis of complete Tyreek Hill audio tape

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 16: Wide receiver Tyreek Hill
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 16: Wide receiver Tyreek Hill /

Now that the full audio has been released on Tyreek Hill, let’s take a look from a legal perspective and ask some pressing questions.

Kansas City Chiefs Tyreek Hill has faced a long legal battle over allegations of child abuse that surfaced in March 2019. KCTV5 released an audiotape of Crystal Espinal and Tyreek Hill discussing the circumstances surrounding the abuse after the district attorney of Johnson County Kansas decided not to press criminal charges against either of them.  The criminal case remains inactive against Hill and Espinal.

610 Sports Radio released the entire 11 minutes of the Tyreek Hill audio tape on Tuesday. They received the audio on June 7 and spent a month authenticating the audio before finally releasing it in its entirety on their afternoon radio show, The Drive. After having listened to the audio, I had the opportunity to respond on air and you can listen to it here. After a bit more processing, here are my thoughts from a lawyer’s perspective.

First, Hill denies every hurting his son. This is consistent throughout the entire saga of the story, and Hill has always denied hurting his son. Additionally, and something that was excluded by KCTV5, was that Tyreek also repeatedly denied the 2014 domestic violence incident to which he pled guilty. The question from a legal perspective is why someone would enter into a plea deal and plead guilty to a crime they did not commit. I touched on this when on the radio, but let me expand a bit further.

In a criminal case, when charges are brought, you are entitled to a trial by jury. You are able to waive that and be tried by a judge (one person), but typically, criminal cases are judged by juries. Juries are a complete gamble. Despite the fact that jurors agree and pledge to be impartial and to judge based solely on the evidence, they bring in their own inherent biases through life experiences. It colors how a person sees the world. That may not be how we want to see the world, but it is the truth. So, you never know what is going to happen with a jury. It is a toss up and often involves your freedom.

When looking at a plea deal proposed by a prosecutor, you are often presented with lesser charges to plead guilty. If you are faced with the prospect of jail time versus probation, you might be tempted to plead guilty too. Is that what happened in Hill’s case? We don’t know, but it could be an explanation for why an innocent person (which Hill claims to be in the recording) pleads guilty to a crime he did not commit. Our legal system is not perfect, but this can be what happens.

Does this audio change anything for Hill from a legal perspective and the criminal charges? No. The district attorney has already heard the audio in its entirety. There is nothing new released that could cause the district attorney to reopen charges against Hill. Should some other recording magically appear, then maybe, but at this point, I believe it is safe to say that the district attorney’s case will remain inactive. From the family court perspective, they have also likely heard the audio> This probably impacted some of the family court’s decisions on removal of their son and steps towards reunification. I would speculate that the family court will not change any of its orders as a result of this audio.

How does this impact Hill and the NFL? It’s tough to say at this point. The NFL has had the audio since it was released. I am quite confident it was discussed in the eight hour meeting that Hill and the NFL had and that Hill and his attorney had a chance to explain the entire audio. Given that, the release of this to the public is unlikely to impact any suspension that is being levied against Hil,. The Commissioner and the NFL have already made up their minds. The public is just now hearing the full audio. The NFL was likely weighing public perception when coming to a decision on the suspension, but this release won’t sway what the NFL was already planning to do.

So what happens now? It seems like this whole mess is coming to a close. Reports are out that the NFL will issue its decision either this week or next week. When that happens, Hill will choose to serve the issued suspension or appeal. Regardless, I truly believe Hill will be at training camp with the team. Hopefully he can continue to work through the family court system to be reunified with his son.

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Until next time, Chiefs Kingdom. (Don’t take legal advice from a sports blog). Go Chiefs!