Courthouse

Walla Walla County Courthouse

A Walla Walla man was sentenced to 26 ½ years in prison Monday in Walla Walla County Superior Court for first-degree child molestation and first-degree child rape.

Erin A. Hurd, 53, pleaded guilty in November 2019. Initial charges of first-degree possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct and sexual exploitation of a minor were dropped in a plea agreement.

Hurd was arrested in December 2018 after Walla Walla police received reports he had logged on to a relative’s computer to view 7- to-11-year-old girls doing various daily routines and gymnastics on YouTube.

Detectives also learned he had performed various sex acts with a then-7-year-old girl he knew, both at her home and in a car at a Walla Walla park, and recorded them on his cellphone, records stated. Police located Hurd’s phone with the videos.

His sentencing Monday took about 45 minutes, as a handful of people wished to speak.

Hurd’s defense attorney, Rachel Cortez, read a statement by Hurd “because he had difficulty reading and writing,” she said. In it, he said he was sorry to the girl and her family for what he did.

“I know I have a problem, and while I am in prison I plan on getting help,” Cortez read. “I hope one day they will find it in their hearts to forgive me.”

Cortez noted that Hurd had “never made any excuses for his behavior” while she represented him and thought the pre-sentence investigation report was odd because it said Hurd was not remorseful.

She asked Judge John Lohrmann to accept the recommendation of an exceptional sentence of 129 months in prison on count one and 240 on count two because by the time of his first parole board meeting, he would be in his 70s.

She also said any delays in the proceedings had been her fault and not Hurd’s, as she had schedule conflicts and personal matters.

Walla Walla County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Mulhern said the state agreed to the recommended sentencing because Hurd had pleaded guilty to the two most serious offenses. She also said the victim, her mother and people who might be selected for a jury wouldn’t have to go through a trial and be subjected to the “heartbreaking and horrifying evidence in this case.”

Mulhern added that the recommendation allowed the state to lock up Hurd the longest without going to trial.

Several of the victim’s family members addressed the court, even though they already had given a written impact statement. The victim’s stepfather noted Hurd had hung out with the family and knew how to read and write prior to the incidents. He found it “frustrating” Hurd told the court he couldn’t read or write.

One of the girl’s grandfathers said Hurd committed “the most vile, heinous thing someone could do” and Hurd had two previous chances (for rehabilitation), but continued his crimes.

“He is not human,” another grandfather said. “He should not be in the U.S. or this world … We need to keep pigs like this off of the streets.”

Walla Walla Police Detective Marcus Goodwater said the case was the worst he’d investigated and that he’d found about 12,000 photos and videos of child pornography belonging to Hurd.

He also said none of the attorneys wanted to watch the footage due to its “disturbing” content, but he and other officers had to, which impacted their lives.

A pre-sentence investigation report stated Hurd’s offender score was more than nine, as he’s had previous felonies, including lewdness with a child younger than 14 in 1996 in Nevada, and child pornography possession in 2002 in Nevada. He also failed to register as a sex offender in 2006 in Los Angeles.

Lohrmann on Monday sentenced Hurd to 198 months, or 16 ½ years, on count one and 318 months, or 26 ½ years, on count two, as recommended by the Department of Corrections. He noted the sentence was “appropriate solely for the purpose of running them concurrently (simultaneously),” as law dictated.

The sentence also included $500 in fines and fees, DNA testing fee and no contact with victims.

Hurd has been in the Walla Walla County Jail since his arrest in December 2018.

Emily Thornton can be reached at emilythornton@wwub.com or 509-526-8325.

Emily Thornton covers courts and emergency services, as well as other various stories. She has been in the newspaper industry off and on since roughly 1999 and lived primarily on the West Coast, but also Florida and Europe.