Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

July 4, 2014

No new trial for 1995 gas station slaying

BLUEFIELD — There are no plans for another trial in the case of a Mercer County man whose 1998 conviction for the 1995 murder of a Bluefield gas station employee was recently overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.

David Lee “Davie” Hurt, no current age available, was arrested after the Aug. 21, 1995 murder of Freddie Lester at the Rich Oil gas station on Bluefield Avenue. Lester had been shot in the back of the head, according to court documents. Hurt told investigators he was talking on the telephone with his girlfriend at the time of the murder. A codefendant told Bluefield police that Hurt had participated in the robbery.

Hurt was tried in 1997 in Mercer County Circuit Court, but a mistrial was declared when the jury hung on a vote of 10 to two in favor of acquittal. A change of venue was granted, but Hurt’s attorneys later argued that it had been moved to Pocahontas County, then the location of a white supremacist organization. Hurt was convicted and on July 16, 1998, and was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment with mercy. The state supreme court took these arguments into consideration when it overturned the conviction. There are no plans for a new trial.

“We don’t have sufficient evidence at this time,” Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ash said Thursday. “The case was mostly predicated on the testimony of a codefendant.”

The codefendant who said Hurt had participated in the robbery and murder later recanted his testimony several times, Ash said.

“As a consequence, his evidence is insufficient to prove a case beyond a shadow of a doubt,” Ash said.

The case will be dismissed without prejudice. If any new evidence could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hurt was involved in the murder, the case could be brought before a grand jury, Ash said. The entire legal process – including putting the case before a grand jury and then conducting a trial – would have to begin again.

There is currently no ongoing investigation into the case, Ash said.

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