October 2, 2014

Elyria
Fog
51°F
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Coroner: Some wounds may have happened after Ridgeville man died

ELYRIA — Duane Hurley may have been dead when he received some of the 55 stab wounds to his body, Lorain County Coroner Paul Matus testified Tuesday during the second day of Daniel Kovar­basich’s murder trial.

Daniel, 16, is accused of stabbing Hurley, 55, with a kitchen knife and beating him in the head with a large pickle jar on Jan. 22 inside Hurley’s Ronald Drive home in North Ridgeville.

Matus said the knife wounds punctured Hurley’s heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and intestines. But even with­out having been stabbed, Matus said, Hurley may have died.

“These blows to the head were quite serious,” he said. “They were blows that, with­out any other type of injury, could have been fatal.”

Defense attorney Jack Bradley has said that Daniel killed Hurley, a family friend, in self-defense during a fit of rage and passion over being sexually abused by Hurley.

Matus said that whoever killed Hurley likely was in a heightened emotional state.

“I would say the person was quite charged,” he said.

Prosecutors contend that Daniel “ambushed” Hurley as he lay in his bed by striking him in the head with the jar, but Bradley countered that Hurley planned to have sex with Daniel the day of the killing, and Daniel wanted no part of it.

Matus said that the blows to the head caused injuries to the brain that probably would have rendered Hurley confused, stunned and unable to protect himself from further attacks.

Bradley has said that after Hurley was hit he stood up and came at Daniel, who stabbed him with a pocket knife he carried. When that knife broke, Bradley said, Daniel went to the kitchen, got another knife and stabbed Hurley again and again.

After Hurley was dead, Daniel called his father, who picked him up and took him to St. John Medical Center in Westlake because he feared his son was having a heart attack. Daniel’s hands and arms were covered in blood when he arrived at the hospital, North Ridgeville police Sgt. Vince Abt testified the hospital staff told him.

Daniel, who is being tried as an adult, told a nurse at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, to where he was transferred, that Hurley had come at him with a knife and a “crazy” look in his eyes. The nurse, whose testimony county Common Pleas Judge James Burge ruled inadmissible on Monday — meaning he won’t use it to help him decide a verdict — also said that Daniel told her that Hurley had chased him with a knife and during the struggle he got the knife and stabbed Hurley until he stopped moving.

Hurley had been taking a drug commonly used to treat bipolar disorder, Matus said a toxicology report showed, but there was nothing else in his system.

Abt told Burge, who will decide the case instead of a jury, that on the day of the killing, Daniel told him a different story.

Abt said Daniel told him that he remembered virtually nothing after his father dropped him off at Hurley’s home so Hurley could take him to school at Life Skills Center in Elyria.

He told Abt that after he got to the house, he put on a pot of coffee and went outside to smoke a cigarette before going into Hurley’s bedroom to use the computer, but the Internet didn’t work.

Abt said Daniel told him that he told Hurley he was going to lay down because he was tired, and Hurley replied that he was going to get some pickles.

That comment, both Abt and Burge said, struck them as odd.

Daniel also said he remembered being pursued by Hurley through the house.

“(He) remembers running in the direction from Mr. Hurley’s bedroom and looked over his right shoulder and saw Mr. Hurley behind him as if being chased,” Abt recalled Daniel told him.

Abt said he spent hours with Daniel at both hospitals while he was guarding the boy, who medical personnel warned him had threatened to kill himself.

Abt said that although Daniel said that he and Hurley were either using drugs together or that he was being molested, Daniel also denied being touched by Hurley.

“He said, ‘I know that a lot of people believed Mr. Hurley was a pedophile, but it wasn’t like that,’ ” Abt said Daniel told him.

He also said that Daniel expected to be arrested, telling him that “even if this was self-defense, I’m still going away.”

The trial resumes today with Abt returning to the stand.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.