Prosecution continues to build case against Justin Hurd - | WBTV Charlotte

Prosecution continues to build case against Justin Hurd


Family members and friends of the three victims killed six years ago were in and out of the courtroom for the Justin Hurd trial Thursday.

The information revealed at times became too much for them to see and hear. Justin Hurd is accused of killing three people then trying to cover up his crime with fire.

The last few days prosecutors have been showing evidence from two crime scenes where the victims died. And today they introduced another location, a storage unit.

Prosecutors said earlier this week the storage unit revealed the motive for the killings.

"Square item you see in the picture appeared to be containing marijuana," said Christy Price, a crime scene investigator with CMPD.

Price said she also found a gun. Jurors did not hear the prosecution's claim the 5 lb block of pot was owned by victim Kevin Young or that Hurd was searching for drugs the night of the killing.

Young died in the home on Patricia Ryan drive. A medical examiner said it was from gunshot wounds inflicted before the fire. The huge fire six years ago destroyed most of the home down to the frame, but the garage was intact. And investigators collected evidence from an SUV parked inside. Prosecutors say the Cadillac Escalade was owned by the other victim found in the home Kinshasa Wagstaff.

They showed photos of three trash bags found in the back seat. And there were many items inside. A crime investigation collector for CMPD reviewed all the items for the jury first with photos and then opening up property bags.

The jurors in this case saw bloody shoes, a bent knife with blood, a taser, gas can, lighters and water bottles.

Defense lawyers objected to many of the medical examiners' graphic photos of the bodies. They said they don't deny the gruesome killings occurred. They argued their client, Justin Hurd did not participate in the killings.

On the third day of testimony, firefighters and investigators who processed the burnt out home where the first two victims, Kevin Young and Kinshasa Wagstaff, were found and in Huntersville where victim Jasmine Hines was found took the stand.

Captain Russell King in 2008 was the first firefighter to arrive on the scene of the fire. He said during his testimony when he got to the Patricia Ryan Drive home he noticed a chicken on the grill leading him to believe people were inside.

After the flames were out, he discovered a body by noticing the teeth. He said if a person was conscious before the fire he/she would turn away from the flames.

Fire investigators said there was a strong odor of gasoline throughout the home. And an expert showed charred floors consistent with gasoline being poured.

"These patterns were found throughout the house," said Jack Kennedy as he pointed to photographs.

Investigators collected two melted plastic containers.

Jurors had the opportunity to smell the fumes from 2008 when the evidence can was opened.

More evidence cans were opened from the second crime scene. They had other plastic containers, red gas cans. A Huntersville detective photographed the gas cans and showed they were found close to Jasmine Hines body. A strong odor of gasoline was there too.

"I could smell it throughout the scene, close to the victim, close to the vehicle in between the two," said Sprague.

Sprague said the gas cans are what led her to contact gas stations in the area for surveillance video. The jury saw that surveillance video on Tuesday.

Justin Hurd appeared to be engaged as evidence was presented and spoke with his lawyers. Hurd did not act differently when graphic images of bodies or injuries were shown. The jury was attentive throughout the day, many of them taking notes.

The prosecution is laying out its case with many witnesses. Eleven people took the stand on Tuesday.

Two were friends of Kinshasha Wagstaff, the woman found dead inside the burnt out home. Michelle Ervin and Rebecca Dennard confirmed the burnt out home on Patricia Ryan Drive was owned by Wagstaff.

Ervin said before the fire, they went shoe shopping.

She said Wagstaff bought a pair of Christian Dior hot pink slingbacks on sale.

Dennard, Wagstaff's friend from college, said she planned on spending that day, Superbowl Sunday together and thought it was strange Wagstaff didn't answer her phone around 6 p.m. that night.

Someone called 911 at 11:43 on February 3, 2008 and whispered into the phone. The officer who responded testified it was completely dark inside.

"After I knocked on the door and I didn't get an answer," said Officer Mike Travis, "I tried the doorbell but it didn't work so I knocked again. I walked around to the car put my hand on the car just to see if it was warm, in case somebody must of just gotten there for some reason they're not coming to the door but it was cold."

That same officer said he went back to the home when the fire call came in and noticed the car he touched was missing.

Many other witnesses reinforced the prosecution's claim that two people were working together on the night of the killings.

The prosecution explained surveillance video recorded before the fire on Patricia Ryan Drive shows Nate Sanders at a Circle K buying gas cans, trash bags and other items.

"When I went to ring him up he tried to pay with a hundred dollar bill," said Fred King, the former Circle K clerk, "I didn't have enough change at the time. I told him I didn't have change. So he bought a bunch of lighters."

Surveillance video from outside the Circle K showed that same man filling the gas cans and then getting into a van on the passenger side. Someone else was driving.

Following the prosecution's timeline, the fire on Patricia Ryan Drive happened later. Then around 5 am, the same man is seen at an Exxon Run and Go.

"He had a busted lip. He had some blood on his hoodie. I couldn't guarantee it was blood. It was red, red," said Rochester Hutchins, the former Exxon Run and Go clerk.

Hutchins saw photos from the other gas station and said that was not the same person who bought gas cans from him. When the defense showed him a photo of Nate Sanders with Angelo Harman (prosecution's first witness yesterday) in Atlanta, he said Sanders was the man he met with blood on his hoodie.

Hutchins and a customer in the store testified they saw a white car following the van when it left the gas station.

Another woman, Janelle Fogelman said she drove behind both cars near Huntersville on her way to work.

"The little white car pulled next to SUV and they were going the same speed," said Fogelman.

She also said she saw them pull off a dead road.

No witness said they could identify Justin Hurd as the driver of the van or the white car. Monday in the prosecutor's opening statement he said Hurd's DNA was found on the steering wheel of the white car found next to one of the victim's bodies.

A Huntersville police officer ended testimony Tuesday saying when he found the body next to a white car there were gas cans nearby.

Prosecutors said Justin Hurd and Nate Sanders killed the three people. Sanders is not on trial.

He was found murdered out of state.

The jury has not been told Sanders is dead.

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