SYRACUSE — Thomas Glen Hursey was handed a consecutive sentence totaling 27 1/2 years for his part in the murders of Joshua Knisley and Tara Thornburg, Feb. 19, 2015, in Syracuse. He will serve a total of 20 years, at the Indiana Department of Corrections with the remaining 7 1/2 years on formal probation.
Hursey was sentenced this morning in Kosciusko Circuit Court after Judge Michael Reed accepted a plea agreement entered Dec. 14, 2016. In that plea agreement, Hursey pleaded guilty to two counts of aiding, inducing or causing robbery (with serious bodily injury). Both were level 2 felonies. Reed sentenced him to 10 years on one count, and 17 1/2 years on the second count.
Two counts of murder and a charge of aiding, inducing to commit obstruction of justice were dropped.
He was also given credit for 696 days already served, from March 2, 2015, to today, Jan 26.
Hursey is the third person sentenced in the murder. Kyle DeHart and Brandon Woody were both sentenced in October 2016 on two counts of murder. DeHart received 110 years and Woody received 120 years. They are both appealing their verdicts and sentences.
Joan DeHart is the lone individual who has yet to be sentenced in the case. She is charged with assisting a criminal. Charges of obstruction of justice against Ashlyn Shepard were dropped.
The court heard from Rhonda Bickel, mother of Joshua Knisley. Her comments were made a matter of court record, even though her letter was made a part of the pre-sentence investigation report. During the reading of her statement, Bickel stated she had the feelings of hate and thankfulness against Hursey. She noted he was the only one of the three who had a conscience, was instrumental in the case and gave detailed information. She said he was the key factor in bringing justice for the deaths.
She recalled when Hursey entered the courtroom to enter his guilty plea and looked at her and telling her “I’m so sorry” and started to cry. She told the court he was the only one who showed remorse. Hursey’s criminal history was noted by Bickel, but she noted it was not as violent as his co-defendants Brandon Woody and Kyle DeHart. She also felt he should not get the same sentence as the other two. He admitted to his involvement and provided the detailed testimony needed. “He should do some time for participating,” she said.
Hursey also addressed the court. From the defense table, Hursey turned to those seated in the courtroom and stated “I apologize to both families. I didn’t know they had weapons or would kill them. I believed they would talk her out of it (paying) … I wished I would have tried to stop them. I’m so sorry what you went through … I’m so sorry. There’s no words. I couldn’t bear to lie, to see what happened. I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.”
Reed stated he hazarded to say anything before issuing the sentence. “Words can’t describe what happened, the loss that has been suffered.” Reed acknowledged the plea agreement, he was inclined to accept, was fair. “There are so many circumstances and points the court agrees with.” Reed recognized Hursey did the right thing and came forward, and the mitigating and aggravating circumstances struck a balance.
“I’m going to order the sentences to be served consecutive because of the harm that resulted from the offense. I will not demean the death of either person,” said Reed.