Justin Hurd found guilty in triple-murder trial - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Justin Hurd found guilty in triple-murder trial

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

The man accused of murdering three people and burning a home to cover his tracks was found guilty on all charges Monday. 

Justin Hurd, who is accused of killing Kevin Young, Kinshasa Wagstaff and Jasmine Hines in February of 2008, was found guilty of three counts of murder, kidnapping, and arson.

After a massive fire on Patricia Ryan Drive, Young and Wagstaff were found dead in the home and Hines was found dead with chemical burns in Huntersville.

The seven men and five women of the jury heard weeks of testimony and lengthy closing arguments before reaching the verdict.

Hurd showed no reaction as the court clerk read the jury's verdict for the charges one by one.

"As to Kevin Young you find the defendant, Justin Dwayne Hurd guilty of first degree murder, answer yes. Under the first degree felony murder rule, answer yes," said the clerk.

Friday, defense lawyer Alan Bowman described his own closing argument as tedious. He explained to the jury he wanted to go through the details of why three of the prosecutions' key witnesses were not believable.

He tore apart the first witness Antonio Harman, the man who can place Justin Hurd and Nate Sanders meeting in Atlanta a couple of days before the murders. He even went as far as to say it's possible Harman was part of the crime. Bowman also ripped apart the credibility of the jailhouse snitches calling them Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

"Put those guys aside what do you have in this case, you have DNA on water bottles and a steering wheel. That's it. That's it," said Bowman.

Prosecutor Clayton Jones said Thursday the state didn't chose the quality of those witnesses, Hurd did when he spoke to them in jail.

"They weren't there. They're not saying the defendant told them the truth. I'm telling you what he said. You take it or leave for whatever it is," said Jones.

The defense again revisited the question of Hurd's DNA found at the two crime scenes.

Thursday they introduced the possibility of a relationship between Hurd and the victim Kevin Young. Friday Bowman said DNA does not have a time stamp, and secondary transfer could have happened as well. He also argued the DNA analysts work for law enforcement and the prosecution.

Bowman said one of the experts went on the stand saying Hurd's DNA matched the DNA on the steering wheel, instead of saying could not be excluded like she wrote in her report.

"I thought this was about the science not her opinion," said Bowman, "She abandoned the science for an opinion that was more favorable."

Friday there were just brief moments where prosecutors objected to Bowman's closing. Thursday they instructed jurors to analyze all the evidence.

Jurors selected a floor person and deliberated for about five minutes Friday before breaking for the weekend.

Hurd was arrested in 2009 and extradited to Charlotte from Ohio. CMPD said they also connected 20-year-old Nathaniel Sanders to the crime in 2009, but Sanders had already been murdered out-of-state in 2008. 

Assistant District Attorneys Reed Hunt and Clayton Jones were prosecuting for the State.
Hurd was represented by a trio of attorneys from out-of-state. They include Alan Bowman, from Newark, NJ; Carl Grant, from Columbia, SC; and James McMillan, of New York City.

Sentencing is the next phase of this trial. Jurors will hear from additional witnesses before deciding if Hurd will be sentenced to death.  They have been told by the judge not to discuss this case and the sentencing phase will begin Wednesday.

The lead defense lawyer for Justin Hurd told the judge Monday the team will be calling an expert witness during the sentencing phase. The lawyers chose not to present any witnesses or evidence during the trial to earn the right to speak twice during closing arguments.

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