Hurt fired gun before boy was shot, children testify



Nathaniel Hurt, on trial in the slaying of a 13-year-old boy, was convicted in 1980 of assault and received a one-year suspended sentence with one year of supervised probation, according to court records. Articles in The Sun on Saturday and yesterday incorrectly stated that he had no criminal record.

The Sun regrets the error.

After two East Baltimore children yesterday became the latest to testify that Nathaniel Hurt fired a gun just before 13-year-old Vernon Lee Holmes Jr. was killed, the defense began trying to show that Mr. Hurt didn't intend to shoot the boy.

Defense attorney Stephen L. Miles also said he will present testimony suggesting that the fatal shot did not come from Mr. Hurt's gun. "I think I'm going to be able to show there was another shot fired," Mr. Miles said after his client's murder trial recessed for the weekend.

The defense attorney declined to elaborate, but said a witness says he saw someone else shooting in the area. And he said he will present testimony to suggest that striking the boy in the back from a fire escape was an impossible feat of marksmanship.

"There is no way in the world he could have intentionally shot this boy," Mr. Miles said, though he also acknowledged that the fatal shot may have come from his client's .357-caliber Magnum.

The bullet that killed the boy was never recovered.

Mr. Hurt, a 62-year-old with no criminal background, is charged with first-degree murder in the boy's death.

His lawyer has suggested that a pack of boys, ranging in age from 9 to 13, provoked the shooting with their taunts and persistent vandalism of his property.

Witnesses as young as 9 years old testified yesterday that Mr. Hurt fired a gun from a fire escape overlooking an alley immediately before young Holmes was shot.

Also, Dr. James Locke, a medical examiner who performed an autopsy on the boy's body, demonstrated to the Baltimore Circuit Court jury that the bullet entered the middle of the boy's back and traveled upward and out his chest.

That testimony seemed to suggest the boy was scurrying away when shot from the fire escape above.

Mr. Miles, who has said his client fired only warning shots, repeatedly suggested that the angle may be explained if the shot had ricocheted.

Dr. Locke was adamant, however, that the wounds precluded within "medical certainty" any chance that the bullet had ricocheted.

William Miller, 29, testified that he saw Mr. Hurt beat an 11-year-old boy minutes before the shooting, essentially corroborating the boy's testimony on Thursday.

The trial is scheduled to resume Tuesday.

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