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A jury in this courthouse Thursday convicted Dale Hurd of first degree murder in his third trial for killing his wife. His first and second trials in the 1993 murder ended in a hung jury and an overturned verdict by an appeals court.
Dale Hurd stared straight ahead in a Downtown L.A. courtroom Thursday as the clerk read the verdict in his third trial for killing his estranged wife in 1993.
Prosecutors said Hurd, amid a dispute over a divorce financial settlement, shot his wife when she came by to pick up their children. The jury evidently agreed; it found Hurd guilty of first degree murder with enhancements for using a firearm.
Defense attorneys had argued that the shooting was an accident. They maintain that Hurd was charged excessively. His first trial resulted in a hung verdict. The second, in 1995, also ended in a conviction, which the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals later overturned.
During that trial, defense attorneys had argued that Hurd was showing his wife how to use the gun when it accidentally went off. But Hurd refused to re-enact the incident for police officers. Prosecutors introduced that fact during trial as evidence of his guilt. Justices with the 9th Circuit decided the use of that evidence violated Hurd's Miranda rights - specifically the right to remain silent - and overturned his verdict.
Defense attorneys will likely appeal Thursday's verdict. They maintain that Hurd is a fundamentally decent man, who still mourns the loss of his family. Hurd's children, aged 4 and 7 at the time of the murder, testified against him during his trial. Neither has any contact with their father, prosecutors said.
Hurd faces life in prison without parole when he's sentenced. That hearing is scheduled for January 23, 2013.