Trial Begins For Man Accused of Killing SF Officer

Monday, Aug 16, 2010  |  Updated 12:00 PM PDT
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Trial Begins For Man Accused of Killing SF Officer

Several cops on leave

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The murder trial of a man accused of killing a San Francisco  police officer while fleeing several robberies in a stolen van four years ago  got under way this morning in San Francisco Superior Court.

      On July 26, 2006, Steven Petrilli was allegedly driving a stolen  silver van being chased by police after four robberies earlier that night  when he ran a stop sign in the city's Portola District and crashed into  Officer Nick-Tomasito Birco's patrol car.
     
The crash happened at about 1 a.m. at Cambridge and Felton  streets. Birco, who was not part of the original chase, had been responding  to assist when his patrol car was struck and careened into a utility pole.
     
Petrilli was arrested at the scene along with two other men and a  woman in the van.
     
Birco, 39, a five-year veteran of the police force assigned to the  Bayview Station, was pronounced dead at the hospital.
     
Petrilli, now 24, is facing several charges including murder,  conspiracy, robbery, vehicular manslaughter in the commission of a crime, and  flight from a police officer causing death.
     
Opening statements in the trial began this morning. Prosecutors  are asking jurors to convict Petrilli of first-degree murder.

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