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Timothy Lee HURST





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: May 2, 1998
Date of birth: December 12, 1978
Victim profile: Cynthia Harrison (assistant manager of a Popeye’s fast food restaurant)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Escambia County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on April 26, 2000

Florida Supreme Court


opinion 00-1042


DC#  124669
DOB:  12/12/78

First Judicial Circuit, Escambia County Case # 98-1795
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Joseph Tarbuck
Attorney, Trial: R. Glenn Arnold – Private
Attorney, Direct Appeal: W.C. McLain – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals:  Jeff Hazen – Registry

Date of Offense: 05/02/98

Date of Sentence: 04/26/00

Circumstances of Offense:

Cynthia Harrison was an assistant manager of a Popeye’s fast food restaurant in Pensacola, Florida.  Timothy Hurst was a morning prep person at the same restaurant, and his responsibility was to make rice and biscuits and wash dishes. 

On 05/02/98, Harrison and Hurst were scheduled to work at 8:00 a.m.  The two were scheduled to be the only workers in the restaurant until another worker arrived at 9:00 a.m. 

On the morning of May 2nd, Davis Kladitis, an occasional customer at Popeye’s, was standing outside a feed store near the restaurant when he saw Harrison drive by and waved to her.  Kladitis also saw another car behind Harrison’s, being driven by a black man. 

Kladitis later identified the car as the one belonging to Timothy Hurst.  Carl Hess, who worked at a nearby Wendy’s restaurant, reported seeing Hurst being let into the Popeye’s restaurant by Harrison.

At 7:55 a.m. on May 2nd, Jeanette Hayes, an employee of another Popeye’s restaurant in Pensacola, called the restaurant that Harrison and Hurst worked at and informed her that a delivery truck was en route.  Hayes noted that Harrison did not sound scared.

Tanya Crenshaw, another assistant manager at the restaurant, arrived at the restaurant at 10:30 a.m. to find two employees and a delivery truck driver waiting outside the restaurant.  Hurst was nowhere to be found, but Harrison’s body was found in the freezer.

Harrison’s body was bound and gagged with black electrical tape.  The body had over sixty incised slash and stab wounds, all of which were consistent with having been made by a box cutter, which was found by the back door of the restaurant. 

Lee Smith, a friend of Hurst, testified that Hurst had stopped by his house on the evening before the murder and told Smith that he [Hurst] planned to rob the Popeye’s restaurant where he worked. 

At 8:30 a.m. on May 2nd, Hurst returned to Smith’s house, carrying a clear plastic container with money in it and a bank bag.  The amount of money taken by Hurst was later determined to be $1751.54 of the store’s proceeds and $375 in small bills and change, all taken from the restaurant’s safe. 

Hurst told Smith that he had killed “the manager” and put her in the freezer.  Smith washed Hurst’s pants, which had blood spots on them, and he also helped Hurst dispose of Harrison’s wallet and Hurst’s shoes and socks. 

Hurst, Smith, and Hurst’s brother then went to a Wal-Mart store and bought a pair of shoes for Hurst. The three then went to a pawn shop, where Hurst bought three rings for $300.

Lee Smith’s parents were out of town at the time of the murder, but when they returned and found the clear plastic container and money in Smith’s room, they called the police. 

Police interviewed Smith and searched a garbage can, where they found a coin purse with Harrison’s driver’s license in it, a bank bag marked with “Popeye’s” and Harrison’s name on it, a bank deposit slip, and a bloody sock and shoes that belonged to Hurst. 

Trial Summary:

05/26/98          Indicted as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder   

03/23/00          Jury returned a guilty verdict on the sole count of the indictment

03/23/00          Jury recommended death by a vote of 11-1

04/26/00          Sentenced as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder – Death

Case Information:

Hurst filed a Direct Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 05/12/00, citing the following errors: finding the avoid arrest aggravating circumstance, failing to consider mitigating circumstances, disproportionality of the death sentence, and failing to notify the jury of the aggravating circumstances to be considered. 

On 04/18/02, the FSC affirmed the conviction and sentence.

Hurst filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on 08/20/02 that was denied on 10/21/02.

Hurst filed a 3.850 Motion with the Circuit Court on 10/16/03, supplemented the motion on 09/30/04, and amended the motion on 01/24/05, 05/23/05, and 09/29/05.  The motion is pending.



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