Paul Hurth, a former Fresno police officer and chaplain who was jailed for the 2000 shooting death of his ex-lover’s husband, is free on parole after completing his sentence.
Hurth was released on Tuesday in Calaveras County and will be on parole for three years, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation confirmed.
Hurth, now 61, served 17 years of the 21-year sentence ordered by Fresno County Superior Court Judge Edward Sarkisian. He was convicted for voluntary manslaughter in the death of Ralph Gawor, then 43. Hurth was having an affair with Gawor’s wife, Nancy.
In a case that riveted the community, Hurth testified that he went to Gawor’s north Fresno home, dressed in his police uniform, to talk to his lover’s husband and end the affair. But when Hurth told the man about the relationship, Gawor became enraged and attacked, he testified. Scared for his life, Hurth fired his service weapon in self-defense, he said.
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Prosecutor James Oppliger, who is now a retired Superior Court judge, argued that Hurth began to plan the killing after learning that the victim and his wife were reconciling. After the killing, Hurth tried to hide evidence and elude capture, Oppliger said.
Sarkisian handed Hurth the longest sentence allowed by law, saying the former police officer abused his power and lied about his motives.
In late 2002, Nancy Gawor filed a civil lawsuit against Hurth for economic loss, emotional distress and punitive damages. He was ordered to pay the widow nearly $2 million.
Hurth’s daughter, Rebekah, published a book of poems called, “Such is Tragedy,” that described her feelings about her father’s arrest, infidelity and incarceration. Her father supports the book, she said in an April 2002 interview with The Clovis Independent. “He hopes that it will help others who are dealing with some of the same emotions.”
The Hurth family has since moved out of Clovis and to another location in the San Joaquin Valley, the Independent said.