Federal Trial Begins In Case of Accused Killer of Columbus Police Officer

Testimony got underway today in the federal district jury trial of a man accused of killing a Columbus Police officer. 30 year old Daryl Lawrence faces a possible death penalty if convicted of the January 2005 murder of officer Bryan Hurst.

U.S. Assistant attorney David DeVillers told jurors officer Hurst “died doing his duty,” as he exchanged gunfire with a bank robbery suspect on January 6th, 2005. Hurst was working special duty in the lobby of the 5th-3rd bank on East Broad Street. He was moonlighting for extra cash after his wife was wrongfully fired from a job with the Delaware County Sheriff’s Department.

Prosecutors allege Daryl Lawrence entered the bank lobby with his 40-calibre semi-automatic weapon cocked and ready to fire. He spotted Hurst and according to DeVillers, lunged over the teller counter and started shooting at Hurst at point blank range. Hurst returned fire before he collapsed and a bullet struck Lawrence in the hand, leaving a trail of blood. D-N-A taken from the scene lead to Lawrence’s arrest three days later. DeVillers told the jury defendant Daryl Lawrence robbed three Central Ohio banks in 2004 using a combination of “terror, intimidation, fear and a firearm” to take control and demand employees remove money from the bank vaults. He said Lawrence had a very good year in 2004: “He worked three days and made nearly 300-thousand dollars.”

Defense attorney Kort Gatterdam told the jury “this is not a whodunit case.” In a bid to spare his client’s life, Gatterdam asked jurors to hold the prosecution to its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

He says the defense admits lawrence shot Hurst and was shot by Hurst. But, he says his client did not intend to place any lives in jeopardy. Gatterdam says Lawrence was surprised by the officer’s presence in the bank lobby on that January morning, he panicked and then instructed everyone to get down and then motioned to officer Hurst not to fire. But, he says Hurst fired and a bullet hit Lawrence’s ring finger and shattered it.

Gatterdam says there’s no evidence Lawrence shot the police officer at point blank range. He says he surrendered to arresting officers three days later and apologized to them. Lawrence left written notes about the incident. They were found by police next to a Bible. Testimony in the case is expected to take several weeks.