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Evansville jury acquits teen in man’s killing

– A southwest Indiana teenager has been acquitted of murder and robbery charges in the death of a homeless man whose body was found in the Ohio River.

A Vanderburgh Circuit Court jury, however, failed to reach a verdict Monday on an obstruction of justice charge against William Hurt in the June 2012 killing of Marcus Golike.

The Evansville Courier & Press reported that prosecutors must now decide whether to dismiss that charge or retry the 18-year-old Hurt on the obstruction charge.

Messages seeking comment left Tuesday with the county prosecutor’s office were not returned.

Golike, 54, a homeless man and friend of Hurt’s family who had recently been released from prison, was beaten, strangled and his body dumped in the Ohio River, according to police. His body was found by campers along the river in Kentucky on June 17.

Jurors heard more than three days of testimony in Hurt’s trial. Late Monday afternoon, they viewed his lengthy videotaped interview with police during which Hurt confessed to Golike’s killing after hours of questioning. It was the second time jurors had listened to the more than three-hour recording. During Hurt’s trial, police testified that they found no evidence to prove Hurt’s confession.

But Mike Perry, chief trial deputy of the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office, contended Hurt’s confession was true but that some elements of his story were intentionally false to mislead investigators.

“We’re not dealing with someone of limited intelligence here. This is a smart kid,” Perry said.

He said Hurt was able to correctly tell officers what pocket Golike’s baseball hat was found in and that it was rolled up – details he said were known only to police.

Hurt’s defense attorney, Conor O’Daniel, argued that police coerced Hurt into making a false confession and said officers tainted his answers by relaying information to him through their questions.

O’Daniel also said that officers threatened Hurt, who is adopted and had been a foster child, with prison and breaking up his family. The attorney said officers told Hurt he could leave the police station if he told them what they wanted to hear.

“The reality is they couldn’t find anything because it didn’t happen,” O’Daniel said on Monday.