From The Charlotte Observer by Michael Gordon, March 6, 2014
Justin Hurd was sentenced to three consecutive life terms in prison Thursday for his role in the savage 2008 home invasion in which three people were killed.
Justin Hurd – Photo by Todd Sumlin
The jury deliberated for less than 30 minutes before announcing its unanimous verdict. Hurd could’ve been sentenced to death. A Mecklenburg jury last sent someone to death row five years ago.
Hurd, 35, was convicted this week of three capital murders in the stabbing and shooting deaths of Kinshasa Wagstaff, her boyfriend Kevin “Fergie” Young and Wagstaff’s teen-aged niece, Jazmine Hines.
After the sentence was announced, Hurd addressed the court.
“I just wanted to say what happened here was terrible,” he said. “My heart goes out to all the families affected, of all the victims and my family too.”
The jury of seven men and five women decided to spare Hurd’s life after listening to arguments from the defense and prosecution for two days.
Hurd’s defense team asked for mercy, saying the intellectual gifts that Hurd has displayed during his life could be of value to other prisoners. They also said the prosecution had not proved that Hurd acted alone, thus the death penalty should be ruled out.
Defense attorney Carl Grant took an almost spiritual air when he asked the jury, “When will the killing stop?”
“Mercy should not be denied because Justin Hurd is so bad,” Grant said. “Mercy should be given because you are that good.”
Prosecutor Clayton Jones, however, asked jurors to send Hurd a message, that the killings of Wagstaff, Young and Hines were particularly savage, that they were “the worst of the worst.”
He showed the jury the bent and broken kitchen knife that he said had been used on at least one of the victims. “In the hands of a chef, this is a tool. In the hands of a killer, it’s a vicious tool.”
Jones also had the courtroom look at the death scene photos of the victims. Melenie Miller, Hines’ mother and Wagstaff’s sister, quietly began to cry.
Charlote-Mecklenburg police Detective Philip Rainwater, the lead investigator, turned and reached across a row of seats to offer his hand. Miller squeezed it.
The last execution of a Mecklenburg defendant took place in 2005. North Carolina has not put a prisoner to death in eight years.