Note: This item is more than eight years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references.
Wharton Co. Jury Returns Guilty Verdict in Trial of Man Accused of Killing Game Warden
AUSTIN, Texas — A Wharton County jury took just two-and-a-half hours this afternoon to return a verdict of "guilty, capital murder" in the trial of 27-year-old James Garrett Freeman, of Lissie, who shot and killed Texas Game Warden Justin Hurst March 17, 2007.
The sentencing phase of the trial will begin Tuesday, and Wharton County District Attorney Josh McCown has indicated he will seek the death penalty.
"We are all very relieved by the verdict that was rendered by the jury today," said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Executive Director Carter Smith. "It is a fitting decision given the horrific nature of the crime committed against our colleague, Texas Game Warden Justin Hurst. Our prayers and thoughts remain with Justin’s wife and son, and with his parents and family, as they continue to cope with his loss."
Freeman was suspected of poaching, and opened fire on Hurst and other law enforcement officers following a high-speed police chase on the eve of the game warden’s 34th birthday. Hurst died early the next morning at Hermann Memorial Hospital in Houston, leaving behind a wife and infant son.
Seventeen game wardens have died in the line of duty since 1919.
"We feel for the families that were affected by the senseless killing of Game Warden Justin Hurst and are grateful that in the end, justice was served," said Col. Pete Flores, TPWD’s Law Enforcement Division director.
Hurst began his TPWD career as a wildlife biologist and spent six years at the 15,612-acre wildlife management area formerly known as Peach Point WMA. The wildlife management area, where Hurst conducted research on mottled ducks and other wildlife, was renamed in his honor Oct. 12, 2007.
Hurst graduated from the 48th Texas Game Warden Academy in August 2002, and after a year in Brazos County transferred to Wharton County.
Publication — Permission is granted to publish, in whole or in part, any news releases on this page.
Print — A print-friendly version of the news release shows only the release with font sizes set to the browser default.
Plain Text — Plain text versions of TPWD news releases are provided for copying and pasting into editing software.
To copy text into an editing software:
- Click a Plain Text link to display the plain text page in your browser.
- Select all.
- Paste in a document in your editing program.
Permalink — This is a direct link to the news release, omitting the navigation context from the URI.
English/Spanish — News releases posted in both English and Spanish have one of these links.
If you have any suggestions for improving these pages, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and mention Plain Text Pages.