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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Sex offender dies after fight in prison

8-8-2007 Missouri:

Jefferson City — Authorities on Tuesday were investigating a fight at a southern Missouri prison that resulted in the death of a convicted sex offender.

Pleasant J. Hurst, 48, was punched in the head and injured during an altercation Saturday in the gymnasium of the South Central Correctional Center in Licking. He was pronounced dead later that day at a hospital in Houston, Mo., said Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Hauswirth.

His death is being investigated as a possible homicide, Texas County Prosecutor Michael R. Anderson said Tuesday. Anderson said he has a suspect but declined to identify the person.

Hurst was serving a 52-year sentence from St. Charles County for first-degree child molestation, sexual misconduct with a child, kidnapping and attempted kidnapping.

The Corrections Department's investigators are looking into a motive for the fight, including the potential that it was related to the nature of Hurst's convictions. An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

Hauswirth declined to identify the other inmate involved in the fight but said he did not believe the other inmate was injured or that any weapons were used in the attack. Department investigators are to report their findings to the Texas County prosecutor.

At Hurst's 2003 trial, prosecutors said he grabbed a 10-year-old girl at a Wal-Mart store in O'Fallon in December 2002 and forced her to lie on the floor while threatening to hurt her and the child's family. The girl ignored the command and began to scream, attracting the attention of employees who chased Hurst as he tried to flee the store. Witnesses eventually caught him.

Hurst also had several previous convictions for sex offenses. Among them, he was convicted in 1989 on two counts of first-degree sexual abuse and two counts of sexual assault. He was released from prison in February 1993. ..more.. by The Associated Press

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