Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Saga of the Reedtown Rapist

The Franklin County community of Reedtown is an anachronism, a racially segregated town that sits at the southwest corner of Russellville. Known for its copious drug dealers, Reedtown is the home of Marcus Anthony Hurley, a self-proclaimed member of the Reedtown Crip and Folk Nation and a convicted sex offender with a laundry list of other lesser convictions.

Known as Mark Anthony, the 6'1" bearded Hurley was convicted in 2002 of 1st degree sexual torture, his victim a 17 year-old girl. Sentenced to prison on April 5, 2002, he was a free man by July 16, 2003.

On September 18, 2003, Hurley visited the Hotskees Lounge in nearby Littleville. The small Colbert county town borders Franklin County on the north and is the closest community to Russellville that legally sells alcohol. There Hurley met an exotic dancer whom he repeatedly raped. This is the account of the ordeal as presented in case records:

The victim testified that in the early morning hours on September 18, 2003, she was working her second night as a dancer at Hotskee's Lounge in Littleville. As part of her job, she was required to dance in a bikini or bra and panties for tips and to persuade patrons to buy her at least six non-alcoholic drinks. She would also perform lap dances for customers, one-on-one personal dances performed in a back room. She testified that her shift had begun on the evening of September 17, 2003, and that it was not a busy night at the lounge. She testified that Hurley entered the club at approximately 10:00 p.m. Following her dance on the stage, Hurley tipped her, bought her some drinks, and they talked for about an hour and a half. She asked Hurley if she could perform a lap dance for him, and he agreed. She testified that she performed for him for one four-or-five minute song. During this time, she said, Hurley was respectful and did nothing inappropriate. That dance was the last one of the night for the victim. She testified that she went into the dressing room, changed clothes, and prepared to go home. As she was leaving through the front door, Hurley was waiting for her and asked her if he could walk her to her car. Because he had been a "perfect gentlemen" throughout the night, she agreed to let him walk her to her car. As they were walking to her car, she assumed Hurley had stopped under a breezeway, because he was no longer walking next to her. She testified that she got in her car, buckled her seatbelt, and began lighting a cigarette, when the passenger door opened. Hurley got into the car, and told the victim to "shut up." She testified that Hurley hit her twice in the head and told her to "shut up and drive." Hurley directed her to drive and pull into "what looked like it used to be a driveway" leading to an abandoned house.

Hurley instructed the victim to turn off the car's ignition and lights. He then placed her head in a "headlock," exposed his genitals, and forced her to perform oral sex on him. He then ordered her to remove her pants and underwear, pulled her on top of him while he was in the passenger seat, and forced her to have sexual intercourse with him. Although the victim continued to tell him "no," and that she needed to go home to her baby, he held onto her to prevent her from leaving the car. Following the rape, Hurley smoked a cigarette and allowed the victim to do so as well. Before she finished her cigarette, however, Hurley again forced her to perform oral sex and to have sexual intercourse with him a second time. She testified that they engaged in conversation and smoked another cigarette and that Hurley stepped out of the vehicle with his back to the victim to "use the restroom." The victim testified that she was too scared to start her vehicle. Hurley turned around and told the victim that she could leave, but that she better not tell anyone about the incident, because he would be back at Hotskee's. The victim testified that she pulled onto the main highway and was speeding toward the Littleville Police Department, when she was pulled over by an officer of the Russellville Police Department. After she explained that she had been raped, the officer escorted her to the nearest hospital.

The victim identified Hurley from a photographic line up, as the perpetrator of the crimes against her. Evidence was presented indicating that shortly after the incident occurred, police found Hurley sleeping on the porch of the abandoned home where the rape and sodomy had taken place. When he saw the police, Hurley immediately rolled over and put his hands behind his back to be handcuffed. He admitted that he had been at Hotskee's lounge that night. Evidence was also presented indicating that the DNA profile, taken from Hurley after his arrest, matched that taken from the vaginal swabs from the rape kit analysis performed on the victim on the night of the incident.

For his crimes, Franklin County Judge Sharon Hester sentenced habitual offender Hurley to life in prison. Two years later, he was free again.

Joseph S. Rushing prosecuted the Hotskees rape case against Mark Anthony Hurley, winning a conviction; however, Rushing used what the Alabama Appeals Court later termed inadmissible evidence of yet another previous rape. While not appearing on official Alabama sex offender records, Hurley had committed a very similar sexual assault for which he was convicted in 2000. From court records:

She testified that she first met Hurley on April 7, 2000, at a friend's house. She testified that a group of her friends was at the house when she arrived. Hurley was there, but she did not know him. Hurley took part in the group's conversations and mentioned several times going to the Waffle House breakfast restaurant. After he asked several times, she eventually agreed to go, observing that the appellant appeared to be a "nice guy." She testified that she went alone with him to the Waffle House "[j]ust to go eat." Instead of taking her to the restaurant, however, Hurley took her to his apartment, explaining that he needed to make a telephone call before they went to the restaurant. Hurley asked her to come into his apartment while he made the call. When they entered the apartment, Hurley lit a candle and pretended to make a telephone call before asking her if she wanted to go to the Waffle House. When she replied that she no longer wanted to go and asked that he take her back to her friend's house, he agreed and proceeded toward the front door. She testified that he then closed the door and pushed her toward the living room into a chair. As she begged him to take her home, Hurley began trying to take off her clothes. He proceeded to pull her pants down; he did not remove her underwear or remove the tampon she had inserted earlier before forcibly raping her. After he finished, she asked him to take her home. Although Hurley initially blocked her at the doorway, he finally agreed and drove her back to her friend's house. She testified that no words were spoken on the return drive.

During Hurley's second trial for the Hotskees rape, Joey Rushing, now Franklin County District Attorney, was forbidden to introduce the above facts and otherwise failed to prove force in the Littleville incident. To the delight of Hurley's Reedtown family and friends, the self-proclaimed gang banger was found not guilty.

Hurley returned to Reedtown, but moved often, and in March 2008 was indicted for failing to comply with the sexual predator registration act. Receiving only probation for that crime, Hurley once again remained free.

Soon the Reedtown Rapist was accused of a fourth illicit sex act, specifically the rape of a 17 year-old girl on June 7, 2009. His alleged victim stated she was beaten during the assault that took place at Hurley's Filmore Street residence. Hurley had disappeared by the time officers arrived at his home with the arrest warrant, and U.S. Marshals joined the Russellville Police force in a massive man hunt. Six days later, acting on a tip, authorities found Hurley at the residence of Desmond Hamilton.

Hurley posted a $75,000.00 property bond and returned to his home to await trial, but he was obviously not subdued by his plight. In February 2010, he was arrested again while out on bail--this time on drug charges. He was then indicted by a Franklin County Grand Jury on the charges of Possession of Marijuana and Drug Paraphernalia. What does it take to keep this man in prison?

Perhaps Rushing and Hurley's victims felt a plea was the only sure way to incarcerate Hurley. Now, he will serve at least three years and one day in jail for his latest rape. In March 2011, Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing deemed the split sentence the best way to ensure Hurley would do a substantial amount of time in prison and, considering previous jury verdicts, we agree.

After his release from prison, the 34 year-old Hurley will then face five years of probation. Any violation of the terms of his probation will send the Reedtown Rapist to prison to serve the remainder of his twenty year sentence. Mark Anthony Hurley's record goes back at least ten years; besides several rape/assault charges, Hurley has also previously been convicted of second degree escape.

Look for another chapter in the ongoing saga of the Reedtown Rapist after his release in two years...yes, two years. The year Hurley spent incarcerated after his bail revocation will count toward his time served. As VOCAL says, justice for all, even the victims.

The above account was taken from Shoalanda Speaks originally published June 17-18, 2009, April 14, 2010, and April 3, 2011.