Officer Hardesty, an on-duty police officer, was investigating a hit-and-run traffic collision that Cruz was involved in. Cruz led Hardesty and another officer to a vehicle, supposedly to obtain identification for Cruz, who provided the officers with a false name. Cruz then ran from the officers; Hardesty chased on foot, while the other officer returned to the squad car to pursue Cruz. Hardesty's body was found a short time later. Hardesty had been shot five times, including shots to the abdomen and left eye, from point blank range.
Defense Attorney: Brick Storts III and David Basham
Trial commenced on January 19, 2005. After 4 hours of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict of guilty to the offense of First Degree Murder on February 25, 2005. Total trial length was 38 days. On March 10, 2005, Cruz was sentenced to death for the murder of Officer Hardesty.