Man accused in fatal shooting in Escondido says it was an accident

Michael Hemphill spoke with 10News on Saturday

VISTA, Calif. - A man accused in a fatal shooting in Escondido spoke with 10News on Saturday during a jailhouse interview.

Michael Hemphill wanted to get one message across right away.

"I'm not guilty," he said from behind bars at the Vista Detention Facility.

Hemphill is accused of fatally shooting 36-year-old Brandon Sanchez last Wednesday night in Escondido.

Prosecutors say Sanchez and another man had gone to collect rent from Hemphill, who lives on property where Sanchez was the caretaker. They say Sanchez and Hemphill argued before Hemphill pulled out a gun and shot Sanchez once in the chest, killing him. 

Hemphill told 10News, "Just like I told the 911 operators from the very beginning, it was an accident."

He said he had known Sanchez for years.  When asked about that relationship, Hemphill told 10News,"I can tell you he was a student of mine quite a long time ago." He refused to elaborate.

When 10News reporter John Carroll asked Hemphill about how the killing was an accident, he would not answer directly. 

Instead, he said, "I'm not going to be able to get a high-profile attorney that's going to take this on a contingency basis if I screw up and start talking to the news media ahead of time."

Hemphill is scheduled to be in court on May 6. He is being held at the Vista Detention Facility. Bail was set at $1 million.

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