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Published: Tuesday, 11/11/2003

Defiance man gets life in murder of ex-girlfriend

DEFIANCE - Just four days after he was indicted in his estranged girlfriend s death, a Defiance man pleaded guilty and was sentenced.

Jeremy Rucker, 23, will spend life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 20 years, on one count of aggravated murder for the death of Brandy Hurtt, 23, of Logan County, Ohio.

Judge Joseph Schmenk of Defiance County Common Pleas Court also ordered Rucker to spend an additional 44 months in prison on previous convictions for theft and sexual battery offenses.

Rucker had been serving probation in those unrelated cases at the time of the murder.

Defiance County Prosecutor Jeff Strausbaugh said yesterday prosecutors could have sought a possible death-penalty indictment against Rucker. They declined to do so in exchange for his agreeing to plead guilty to aggravated murder.

Mr. Strausbaugh said the move was seen as the best way to expedite the process for Ms. Hurtt s family.

“We had lengthy discussions with her family,” he said. “They were obviously in agreement.”

Ms. Hurtt s parents could not be reached for comment last night.

Authorities said Ms. Hurtt was killed sometime between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Oct. 11 after she arrived at Rucker s home to allow him visitation with their two children, ages 1 and 3.

Mr. Strausbaugh said the two started arguing and Mr. Rucker stabbed Ms. Hurtt once in the living room.

He continued to stab her in the bathroom.

He loaded her body into a car and dumped it into the Auglaize River.

Authorities found the body a week later in the river s backwaters.

Ms. Hurtt formerly lived in Defiance County, where she attended Tinora High School and played basketball.

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