If you are a regular reader of my blog you know that I like to see appeal records to get information because I feel they are the best source of getting all the information that was presented at a trial to prove someone's guilt. I want to know what evidence was presented at the trial and see how a jury came to the conclusion that they did. I have not seen an appeal on this case as of yet and so I am still left with those questions. This does not mean that I do not believe in the jury's verdict or even that I think the defendant is innocent in any way, in fact it appears that the defense conceded that the defendant was involved in the death of his wife although there was still a trial.
Sometime in early 1982 twenty-nine year old Amy Hurst moved from Michigan to New Port Richey Florida with her husband William. My research indicates that her two children from a previous marriage were living with her until the move when they went to live with their father. When her mother's birthday came in the middle of August of that year and she did not receive a phone call, her family became worried. By most accounts it seems that no one had heard from her in about a month at that point but reports were that she was very close to her mother and would not have missed calling on her birthday.
William Hurst was questioned about the disappearance of his wife and had agreed to take a lie detector test. However, it appears that on the day he was to take the test he took off and for whatever reason he either could not be found or no one was completely looking for him.
On September 5, 1982 two fisherman came across a body of a woman off the coast of Anna Maria Island in the Gulf of Mexico. The body was wrapped first in an afghan and then a green comforter. A rope had been tied first around her waist and then to a concrete block. There was turquoise jewelry on or with the body. My research would only say that there was a “mix up” that caused the body to not be identified or compared to missing persons reports. An autopsy revealed the woman had died from blunt force trauma to the head.
In 2009 Jeff Earley made his way to the Doe Network, a website devoted to finding missing persons and identifying unknown remains. He came across the body that was found in September of 1982 and became convinced this was his mother, Amy Hurst. The afghan that was shown was identical to one his grandmother had made several members of the family and Jeff was certain that he had seen the comforter before. But, apparently what really cinched it for Jeff and his sister, Lisa, was the turquoise jewelry. This was something that Lisa recalled her mom liking and wearing often.
Jeff and his family contacted authorities to inquire about the information that he had found. They provided their own evidence such as an afghan that a family member still had and even a picture of Amy with the green comforter. Jeff provided a sample of his own DNA to be compared to the remains. In July of 2011 the results confirmed that the body was that of Amy Hurst.
It is unclear if while awaiting the DNA results if authorities had found William Hurst in Kentucky and started a full scale investigation or not. One would think that they would have considering what seemed to be other convincing evidence that the body was that of Amy. However, whether they knew where William Hurst was or not by then did not matter because two months after the DNA was confirmed, William Hurst was arrested in Kentucky and eventually taken to Florida where he would face trial.
In April of 2013 there would be a three day trial in which William Hurst faced charges of first degree murder. As I said in the beginning it was unclear just what kind of evidence they had completely to link William. Of course the body was wrapped in belongings of Amy's but surely that alone could not be enough to charge, let alone convict him. Jeff got on the stand and talked of the violence he had seen between the couple before they had left for Florida, saying at least once he saw William hit her with a pot. The problem was that Jeff was nine years old when his mother disappeared and he had not seen her for several months before that so he would have been younger than that. It appears that the defense was able to show some inconsistencies in his interviews with law enforcement that may have not come from him being untruthful but from the decades that had passed and the fact that he was a child when they occurred. However, as I said it appears that the defense argued that William had admitted to accidentally killing Amy during an argument. The scant information on this “confession” of sorts or anything else related to it is why I wish I could have found an appeal somewhere.
Obviously however if I am talking about appeals then you know that the jury found William Hurst guilty in the murder of his wife. This was after less than three hours of deliberation. It is unclear if the death penalty was being considered since it was a 1st degree murder case. He was eventually sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. I did a search on him in the Florida Department of Corrections. I found a notation that stated “out of department custody by court order” and I did a search to see what this means. Once I determined the meaning I then went to find him but I am unsure that I am any less confused. Let me start with the fact that apparently, although I have never seen it in the past, the phrase “out of department custody by court order” indicates that the prisoner is in a county jail as opposed to the state system at that time. This happens when there is a court hearing which apparently it seems was the case here. So, I went to the Pasco County jail and I found William listed. There was a note that says “in for court” but I found a few other things interesting. First, his home address is listed as a Michigan address. Secondly, it stated he was booked January 12, 2017 but on another line says he was arrested January 24, 2017. The court thing seems right but I am unsure why more than two months later he is still there so it seems that something is going on with his case currently. We will have to wait and see what we hear!