There was something about the police officer outside courtroom 13 at the High Court of Auckland on Monday morning.
Most cops move slowly and deliberately. It gives them a wary kind of look. But the guy in court had an edge to him; when he wasn't pacing up and down, he was darting around corners, taking quick strides, always with his wits about him.
This was during the preliminary opening phase - jury selection, pleas entered, water jugs filled up - of the trial that has followed the killing of Constable Matthew Hunt in Massey on June 19 last year.
Police charged Eli Bob Sauni Epiha with his murder. He has admitted it. But he denies a charge of attempted murder of another officer at the scene, David Goldfinch. Epiha shot at him with a semi-automatic firearm. His lawyer Marcus Edgar told the court he did not have the intention of killing him.
Epiha is a big man with a long ponytail sticking out of the back of his big artfully shaved head. He sits in courtroom 13 next to Natalie Jane Bracken, a striking woman with expertly applied eyelashes. She admits she drove Epiha from the scene of the shootings but has pleaded not guilty to the charge of accessory after the fact to Hunt's murder.
Their friends and family sit behind them. When court was cleared for lunch, they waited respectfully until the friends and family of the slain Hunt had left the courtroom.
Good manners are vital in confined spaces.
It's standing-room only in the public gallery; strangely, the trial of a man who has admitted to murdering a police officer is staged in a mean little space. Justice Venning, always a kindly judge, announced in the afternoon that they would move to roomier accommodation as of Tuesday.
Alysha McClintock opened for the Crown. "For unknown reasons," she said of Epiha, who was driving fast in Massey on the day of the shootings, "he had two firearms".
It's unusual to play a recording in an opening address but McClintock turned on footage made from a CCTV camera at the scene of the crime. The CCTV was pointed over someone's backyard. No, not a lot of privacy.
She played it for the audio. It picked up the reverse beeps of rubbish truck – it was a Friday morning; that part of West Auckland puts out its rubbish on Thursday night – and then the sound of Epiha crashing his car, after he swerved to avoid the truck. Then it picked up gunshots.
A blackbird flew off across that back yard at the first gunshot; it was as loud as an avalanche, and there were nine more of those explosions. The last four were directed at Hunt.
Police officer Ilya Kokine was the second witness to be called.
No wonder he had been on edge outside the courtroom on Monday morning. It was his task to describe Hunt dying in the middle of the road. He spoke rapidly.
"He's in the starfish position. He hasn't made a single movement. I guess I was hoping this wasn't as bad as it looked.
"It's true what they say," he said, his mind back in Massey on a Friday morning in the winter of 2020, "hope dies last."