Friday, June 20, 2014

Murder LA 000051

On the morning of April 17th, 1993, Beatrice Hurd was shot through the heart. She was in the Culver City bedroom she had shared with her husband, Dale, at the time. She exited the room and the couple's 4-year-old son watched her descend a staircase and collapse. A 7-year-old daughter was also home at the time.

When police arrived, Dale explained that they had been watching news of verdicts in the Rodney King trial, and, fearing riots, Beatrice wanted to learn how to use a gun. Dale obliged but the gun accidentally went off, fatally wounding her. Police asked him to reenact how that happened and he refused.

Friends thought this was out of character, since Beatrice was afraid of guns. But that's not all; she had confided in several people, including her mother, that Dale had become increasingly abusive and violent. Just a few weeks before the shooting, she had filed for divorce and moved out with the kids.

Hurd at sentencing hearing
via LA Times
A trial followed in 1994, but the jury couldn't reach a verdict. In a second trial a year later the jury found him guilty of murder and he was sentenced to life without parole. In 2010, that conviction was overturned because Hurd's refusal to reenact the incident was used as evidence against him. A judge ruled this a violation of his right to remain silent.

He was convicted again in 2012 and sentenced once more to life without parole in 2013, aged 63. His then adult children testified against him during all three trials but did not attend the latest sentencing hearing.

NOTE: There's a similar case playing out right now, with actor Michael Jace, a star of The Shield, accused of shooting his wife last month while the couple's kids were home. CNN has helpfully provided a woman yelling details of the case at TV cameras.