Criminal case involving Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill reopened after recording released

The criminal case involving Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill and his fiancee Crystal Espinal has been reopened, according to Kansas City head coach Andy Reid.

That move comes a day after a recorded conversation reportedly between Hill and Espinal aired on a local television station. In that conversation the couple talked about their son, the pair’s parenting styles and an injury to the boy’s arm.

Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe, when asked about the case being reopened, said: “We have no comment at this time.”

The Star reported on March 15 that a source familiar with the situation said an incident at Hill’s home left the boy with a broken arm.

“Why does (he) say ‘Daddy did it?’” Espinal asked. “A 3-year-old is not going to lie about what happened to his arm.”

She went on to say, “He is terrified of you.”

Hill responded, according to the recording: “You need to be terrified of me, too, b----.”

The team suspended Hill Thursday night, hours after the recording aired. General Manager Brett Veach read a statement at that time saying the team would gather more information and evaluate it. Veach added: “We will make the right decision regarding Tyreek Hill.”

During his news conference Friday, Reid said the team stood by that statement.

Howe said on Wednesday that his office wouldn’t be filing charges in the case. Howe said he thinks a crime occurred but he couldn’t prove who committed it.

At that time, Howe said the case was closed but that if new information surfaced he could reopen it.

Paul Morrison, former Johnson County district attorney, said the recording “is definitely going to help.”

“The one thing that is pretty apparent in it is that there was probably some obstruction done by the fiancee,” he said. “And that might be the toehold for them. You don’t know exactly what’s in all of those investigative reports. Sometimes, it just takes a little bit to push a case over the edge toward being filable. Sometimes, it takes more. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

But first, Morrison said, prosecutors will have to authenticate the recording to make sure it actually was Hill and Espinal speaking.

“Sometimes that’s easy, but sometimes it’s not,” he said.

What charges could Hill be facing?

“Child abuse is the obvious one,” Morrison said. “Depending on what he did or didn’t do, there could be some other charges as well, like tampering with a witness or something like that. But I’m loathe to say that, just because we don’t know yet.

“Everybody wants to rush to judgment on these things. It’s always better if you have a prosecutor who’s being deliberate and weighing things out and developing a comfort level with whatever that decision’s going to be. And it sounds to me like Howe’s doing this.”

In 2016, the Chiefs drafted Hill, who had pleaded guilty the year before to domestic assault after strangling Espinal in December 2014 when she was eight weeks pregnant. As part of the plea agreement, Hill was ordered to complete 52 weeks of domestic violence prevention classes.

Hill and Espinal are now engaged and she is pregnant with twins.

News surfaced in mid-March that Overland Park police took two reports at Hill’s Johnson County home, one for battery and the other for child abuse and neglect. The police reports, dated March 5 and March 14, both involved a juvenile.

The Star reported last week that Hill’s son recently was removed from the custody of Hill and Espinal. It isn’t clear when the 3-year-old was removed, or who he is staying with now.

The Kansas Department for Children and Families has an ongoing child protection case focused on the couple’s son. In the recording aired Thursday, Espinal appeared to say she defended Hill to investigators.

“I rode for you against that detective and the CPS (Child Protection Services) people,” she said.

Later in the recording, Hill indicates Espinal isn’t supporting him now and wasn’t supporting him in 2014, possibly in reference to when Hill was arrested.

“You ain’t riding for me in 2014, you damn sure ain’t riding for me now, bro,” Hill said.

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Laura Bauer came to The Star in 2005 after spending much of her life in southwest Missouri. She’s a member of the investigative team focusing on watchdog journalism. In her 25-year career, Laura’s stories on child welfare, human trafficking, crime and Kansas secrecy have been nationally recognized.
Judy L. Thomas joined The Star in 1995 and is a member of the investigative team, focusing on watchdog journalism. Over three decades, the Kansas native has covered domestic terrorism, extremist groups and clergy sex abuse. Her stories on Kansas secrecy and religion have been nationally recognized.