A D.C. Superior Court jury yesterday found 22-year-old Donnell L. Hurt guilty of second-degree murder while armed in the slaying of Kenneth R. Asbury, a secretary to Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.)
The body of Asbury, 33, was discovered Nov. 2 in his efficiency apartment in Southwest Washington, after he had not reported for work for two days. A Pennsylvania native, Asbury had worked for Bentsen since 1973.
Dr. James L. Luke, the city's chief medical examiner, determined that Asbury had died of blunt blows to the head. According to the opening statement of William D. Nussbaum, an assistant U.S. attorney, police were led to Asbury's killer by his car. After the murder had occurred, Norfolk police impounded the 1980 Volvo when they found it parked illegally. Running the license plate number through their computer, they discovered D.C. police were looking for the car.
A letter in the car led police to a sailor stationed at the base. The sailor said he had gotten the car from his brother, Hurt. When police found Hurt in his Northwest Washington apartment, he admitted he had been in possession of the car but denied that he knew Asbury or had ever been in his apartment.
As the statement was being taken, police found prints that matched Hurt's in Asbury's apartment on the rim of the bathroom sink, where there were deposits of blood, and on the wall near Asbury's bed, where Asbury's body was found.
Hurt was arrested and placed in jail. The next day, his cellmate, Gregory Marsh, told police Hurt had confessed to the murder, saying it had gone smoothly and that he had wiped his fingerprints away.
Finally, Nussbaum introduced the testimony of a security guard who said he had been called to Asbury's apartment by neighbors complaining of thudding noises and moans. The guard identified Hurt as a man he had seen in the apartment that night.
Public defender W. Anthony Fitch sought to attack the credibility of Hurt's cellmate and the guard's identification.
The jury deliberated just over an hour after a week-long trial before Chief Judge H. Carl Moultrie I. Hurt could be sentenced to life in prison.