February 22, 2013
Evansville Courier & Press
Police testify they have no physical evidence linking Hurt to death of Golike
By: Mark Wilson
Five Evansville police officers, including the lead investigator of Marcus Golike’s death, testified Friday that they found no physical evidence proving 18-year-old William Hurt’s confession that he helped to kill Golike was true.
What police did testify that they had, during four days of trial testimony, was Hurt’s confession — given after several hours of interrogation — and a statement he made to the police officers driving him to jail after that interview. On Tuesday, Officer Jason Pagget testified that Hurt said, “I have to pay for what I did,” while in the squad car.
However, defense expert Steven Drizin, a Northwestern University law professor specializing in false confessions induced by police questioning, testified Thursday that almost nothing Hurt told police was not first said to him by officers. Because of Drizin’s schedule, his testimony for the defense was given out of order in the middle of the prosecution’s case.
Defense attorney Conor O’Daniel is arguing that police coerced Hurt’s confession after making him fearful that he would go to prison and that his family would be broken up.
Prosecutors will continue to present their case Monday with witnesses from the Indiana State Police laboratory in Indianapolis.
Hurt is charged with murder, robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and obstruction of justice in the June 2012 death of Golike — a 54-year-old homeless man who was a friend of Hurt’s family. Police believe he was beaten, strangled and his body placed in the Ohio River late on June 14 or early June 15. If convicted, Hurt could be sentenced to 45- to 65-years in prison on the murder charge and six to 20 years for each of the other charges. Kentucky authorities initially handled the investigation because Golike’s body — found by campers on June 17 — was in Kentucky’s jurisdiction.
In his confession, played in its entirety in court Thursday, Hurt said that he, his sisters Deadra and Andrea Hurt and another teenager, Harley Wade, were in a van and stopped Golike while he was walking on South Weinbach Avenue. He said that he and Wade beat Golike and that Wade then strangled him. He also told police that they put Golike in the van, tied him with some sheets and drove to Dress Plaza on the Evansville riverfront where they put him in the river.
The body was located several miles upriver, which is against the current, from Dress Plaza.
Deadra Hurt and Harley Wade also were initially charged with murder, but those charges were dismissed last fall.
Hurt told police that the teens then drove to a Kangaroo Express at Kentucky Avenue and Riverside Drive and used Golike’s debit card to buy snacks and cleaned out the van.
Crime Scene Investigator Tony Walker testified that he viewed the video surveillance from the store’s and never saw the van or teenagers there. Crime Scene Investigator Todd Lincoln testified earlier that he also viewed it and did not find them there.
Detective Joe Dickinson told the jury the store clerk working that night could not pick Hurt out of a photograph lineup shown to her. Detective Jennifer Cueto testified Friday that she was asked to get videos from other nearby stores but none of them contained evidence.
Walker said he was one of several officers who looked at the van. He said he helped look for blood inside the vehicle but didn’t find any. He also said that signs of blood would be detected even if the van’s interior had been scrubbed. He also said hair and fiber samples were collected but never tested.
Crime Scene Investigator Doug Hamner testified that he looked for fingerprints and found only seven partial prints on the van’s outside. There were no matches of those prints to any known persons, including Golike.
Detective Sara Hillsmeyer said she looked at several days of video surveillance of Dress Plaza, including of its entrance, from cameras on Casino Aztar and did not see the van.
Detective Jeff Vantlin, lead investigator for the case, said Friday that he noticed and photographed some abrasions and swelling on Hurt’s right hand. However, he said that Hurt showed him that he worked with spike-coverred trays at LICS ice cream shop which he said sometimes injured him. He said Hurt told him that the trays were used to make LICS Choco-cremes. He also said Hurt told him that he could have scraped himself while grating soap at his house and that he had punched a tree in anger the previous year. Vantlin said he did look to see if there was a soap grater at Hurt’s house that verify the claim.
Cueto testified she also helped search Hurt’s house and found an empty leather wallet inside a clear plastic drawer next to Hurt’s bed. But Vantlin testified there was nothing to suggest the wallet was Golike’s. He also said he never asked Hurt about it.
Vantlin testified that he and another detective drove with Hurt to the locations in his confession but that they did not get of the car and look at the spot where Hurt said Golike was beaten.
He also acknowledged that Kentucky State Police Detective Zachary Jones was the first one to mention a wallet and debit card to Hurt. Vantlin testified that police could find no evidence that Golike had a debit card with his Heritage Federal Credit Union account or that it had been used at the store.
Vantlin also said that police were not able to get past the password protection and into two cellphones collected as evidence and nothing was found on a third cellphone collected.
He also said the river bank was searched for sheets that may have been used to tie Golike but nothing was found.
Hurt’s mother Debbie Hurt briefly testified Friday, but Judge Kelli Fink ordered the attorneys not to ask her about any prior actions of Wade. She said she never discussed anything about the events of June 14 with her son.
She said she told Vantlin some sheets were missing, but that she later found them. She said she did not tell Vantlin that because she was not talking to him by that point.
Fink had earlier ordered that she testify with immunity, meaning that nothing she said or derived from what she said could be used against her later if she was truthful.
Fink also allowed Jerry Bulger, assistant chief of Perry Township Volunteer Fire Department to testify that in 2010 a body had been found caught in a barge. Deputy Prosecutor Mike Perry has argued that Golike may have been pulled upriver by a barge.