Hursey pleads guilty to robbery, murder charge dropped

Thomas Hursey pleaded guilty this morning in Kosciusko Circuit Court. to robbery charges in connection to a 2015 double murder in Syracuse.

Judge Michael Reed took the plea agreement under advisement, and set a hearing date for 9:45 a.m. Jan. 26. If Reed accepts the plea, Hursey will be sentenced on that date.

Hursey was charged with two counts of murder in the shooting deaths of Joshua Knisley, 19, and Tara Thornburg, 23, in February 2015. Hursey also was charged with two counts of aiding, inducing or causing a robbery and one count of obstruction of justice, in connection with the slayings.

Hursey was charged in the murder along with Brandon Woody and Kyle DeHart. Woody and DeHart were convicted of the murders Oct. 7. They were later sentenced to 120 and 110 years in prison, respectively.

In a plea agreement, Prosecutor Dan Hampton dismissed the murder charges and the obstruction charge. In the agreement, Hursey will not spend more than 20 years in prison.

During Woody and DeHart’s murder trial, Hursey testified the three men went to Thornburg’s residence to steal marijuana from her.  Thornburg led the men upstairs to sell them the pot. She told them to be quiet because her boyfriend, Knisley, was sleeping.

Once it became clear the men had no intention of paying for the drugs, a confrontation ensued, where Woody shot Thornburg. Hursey testified he and DeHart ran down the stairs after the shot, and heard another shot. In the car, Woody told Hursey he had shot Knisley as well, Hursey testified.

Hursey was able to led police to evidence in the case, including shoes he said DeHart tossed out the window while fleeing the scene. Investigators determined that shoes were similar in size, shape and tread to the shoes that Hursey led them to.

Hursey also led them to the burn pile outside  DeHart’s residence where police say the men burned thier clothes after the murder.

During the trial, Hursey testified he received no promise of leniency from Hampton in exchange for his testimony.