Paul Hurth, a former Fresno police officer and chaplain jailed for the 2000 shooting death of his ex-lover’s husband, is expected to be released in December, according to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
If released next month, Hurth, who is now 61, will have served 17 years of the 21-year sentence ordered by Fresno County Superior Court Judge Edward Sarkisian. Hurth, who is imprisoned at Correctional Training Facility in Soledad, was convicted for voluntary manslaughter in the death of Ralph Gawor, then 43. Hurth was having an affair with Gawor’s wife, Nancy.
The corrections department does not release the exact date, time or location of an inmate’s release to protect the safety of the public, the staff and the inmate, said spokesman Luis Patino.
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.
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.
“It’s very difficult for the court to accept that the defendant went to the Gawor residence to announce that the affair was over and ask for forgiveness,” Sarkisian said at the sentencing.
“This case is all about trust,” the judge said. He then quoted words from a letter he received, “The defendant betrayed his wife, he betrayed his fellow officers, he betrayed the citizens of this community to whom he was sworn to protect, and he betrayed his God.”
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 story said.