Economist found guilty of murdering his wife in 1993
An economist was found guilty of first-degree murder Thursday in connection with the shooting of his wife at their Culver City home nearly two decades ago, despite his claims that the killing was an accident that occurred when his gun malfunctioned.
Dale Hurd, 62, showed little emotion as the verdict was announced in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom, where prosecutors had argued that he deliberately shot Beatrice Hurd to prevent her from taking thousands of dollars in monthly spousal and child support.
The April 17, 1993, shooting occurred the same day that a federal jury returned verdicts in the criminal case against four Los Angeles police officers charged with violating the civil rights of motorist Rodney G. King.
Hurd's defense attorney said the gun accidentally discharged when his client was showing his wife how to use a pistol for protection in case of rioting following the verdicts, as happened after the 1992 trial in the King case.
But prosecutors noted that the victim had told numerous people that her husband was abusive and that she was scared he would harm her. Her husband was served with divorce papers less than three weeks before the killing.
The victim, a 46-year-old mother of two, was struck by a single gunshot fired from one to six inches that pierced her heart.
“This is a case of fear. It is a case of abuse. It is a case of greed. It is a case of murder,” Deputy Dist. Danette Meyers told jurors earlier this week.
Jurors determined that the murder was motivated by financial gain. Hurd faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced in January.
The trial marked the third time that Hurd's case has gone before a jury. His first trial ended when jurors could not agree on a verdict, but a second panel convicted him of first-degree murder in 1995. A federal court of appeals overturned that conviction two years ago, ruling that prosecutors should not have been allowed to tell jurors that Hurd refused to re-enact the shooting for police after his arrest.
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-- Jack Leonard