FRESNO, California - After 17 years in prison for killing his lover's husband, former Fresno police officer and chaplain Paul Hurth was released this week, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said.
Hurth was released on a three-year parole term in Calaveras County on Tuesday.
It was a case that captivated the Valley back in 2000. Hurth, a Fresno police officer and chaplain, found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 21 years in prison.
The last time we saw Hurth he was shackled inside a federal courtroom in 2009. Hurth was convicted nine years earlier of shooting and killing Ralph Gawor, the husband of his lover. Sentenced to 21 years in prison, Hurth's legal team was trying to have the case thrown out.
"If even one juror has come to a verdict based on outside influences the court has to reverse," said Hurth's attorney Kent Russell.
Hurth's sentence was upheld and now 17 years after the deadly love triangle he's been released from prison. Legal expert David Mugridge says by the law his release makes sense.
"A murder there has to be a specific intent and in this case the jury did not find a specific intent to kill. He did eventually kill an individual, but that wasn't his purpose and plan when he went over there," Mugridge said.
Eyewitness News dug up court documents for the case that outline how Hurth shot and killed Ralph Gawor while in police uniform with his service weapon.
"The judge had it in his mind that he took advantage of a specific trust that we have. Not only in a police officer, but trust you would have in a minister," Mugridge said.
Mugridge says the aftermath of the killing is what led to Hurth's maximum sentence.
"Say a few things to a couple of officers, go home, go to church a couple days later and preach to his congregation as if nothing ever happened showed there was a lot of callousness here," Mugridge said.