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Hurdel trial begins

Fort Dodge man accused of killing estranged wife

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Justin Hurdel, a Fort Dodge man accused of killing his estranged wife in August 2020, listens to the opening arguments of his first-degree murder trial at the Boone County Courthouse.

BOONE — Justin Hurdel went into the office of his estranged wife’s lawyer to sign divorce papers just hours before he allegedly shot and killed her in August 2020, Assistant Webster County Attorney Bailey Taylor told a Boone County jury on Wednesday afternoon.

Hurdel is on trial for first-degree murder in the death of his estranged wife, Maggie Flint. Flint was known as Maggie Hurdel during her marriage to the defendant.

Hurdel, 44, of Fort Dodge, was arrested on Aug. 6, 2020, after a 17-hour manhunt across the city after he allegedly shot and killed Flint in a garage where she was working on her pickup truck the day before.

On Aug. 5, 2020, officers were called to 526 S. 19th St. for reports of shots fired. When officers arrived, they located Flint with what appeared to be a gunshot wound. Paramedics attempted life-saving efforts, but she died at the scene.

Hurdel was soon named a suspect in the homicide and he was later located in the area of the junction of U.S. Highway 20 and Webster County Road P59, south of Fort Dodge. Webster County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Swamper was deployed to track the suspect, who was quickly tracked to a nearby shed where he was taken into custody without incident.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Assistant Webster County Attorney Bailey Taylor gives her opening arguments to the jury for Justin Hurdel's first-degree murder trial at the Boone County Courthouse on Wednesday afternoon.

Hurdel was eventually charged with first-degree murder.

The trial was moved to Boone County after the court was unable to seat a jury in Webster County after a day of jury selection in April.

After nearly two days of jury selection, the attorneys were able to give their opening arguments to the jury before the end of the day on Wednesday.

Aug. 5, 2020, should have been a day of relief for Flint, Taylor told the jury.

“A day a weight had finally been lifted off her shoulders,” she said. “A day where Maggie … could breathe easy, because what had once been a happy marriage that turned ugly, was supposed to be over.”

Flint had filed for divorce to end the marriage that lasted almost two years.

“She was ready to move on with her life, but instead, this man right here decided that that day was going to be Maggie’s last day on this earth,” Taylor said. “You’re going to hear that this marriage was full of ups and downs, as evidenced by three separate occasions where Maggie had filed for divorce.”

Taylor told the jury that they would be hearing from Webster County Sheriff’s Office Detective Alex Winninger, who specializes in telecommunications, who will testify on the “magnitude” of text messages sent between Hurdel and Flint during the month prior to Flint’s death.

“This man went above and beyond to tear this woman down,” Taylor said.

In the week before Flint’s death, Hurdel’s messages to her “went from sad, to desperate, to pathetic,” the prosecutor said.

Taylor said that testimony from witnesses will show that Hurdel came to the home on South 19th Street, where Flint was working on her truck, to tell her he had signed the divorce papers. She said Hurdel saw that the news didn’t upset Flint, so he “storms off” before later returning with a gun and waiting for her to return from an auto parts store.

“You’ll hear the witnesses say that they heard the defendant say to her ‘If my life is over, then so is yours,'” Taylor said. “A moment later, Maggie is on the ground, dead, with a shotgun wound to the back.”

When it was the defense’s time to address the jury, defense attorney Katherine Flickinger told the jury that “accidents happen” and that Flint’s death wasn’t intended by the defendant.

Hurdel had recently received a “horrible medical diagnosis,” had lost his job because of it and had now lost his marriage, making him suicidal, Flickinger said. He went to the garage that day, not to kill Flint, but to kill himself in front of her.

“Maggie died as a result of Mr. Hurdel’s reckless behavior,” she said. “He wasn’t trying to shoot her, he was trying to shoot himself. But when that gun goes off, you can’t take it back.”

After the shot that killed Flint, Hurdel did turn the gun on himself, previous court records and testimony show, and he received serious tissue injuries to his nose.

Flickinger told the jury that when the trial is nearing its end, she plans on asking it to return with a verdict of guilty of involuntary manslaughter, a “lesser included” charge in a first-degree murder charge.

The trial will continue today with the start of witness testimony. Follow @KelbyWingert on Twitter for live updates.

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