Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The bizarre case of Duane Hurley and Daniel Kovarbasich

The Sentence and Oprah

On August 12, 2010, Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge sentenced Daniel Kovarbasich to 5 years' probation for the killing of Duane Hurley. Burge ordered that Daniel must obtain a high school education and a driver's license during that time, and will be under "intensive supervision" during the course of his probation. He will remain in the Lorain County Jail until the court finds a rehabilitation program that will accept him.

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Barely two months after his conviction and sentencing for killing Duane Hurley, Daniel Kovarbasich was allowed to travel to Chicago accompanied by a probation officer and family members to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show. The segment of the popular television show was about sexually abused children who had stood up to their abusers and featured other guests in addition to Kovarbasich and his family. Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge, the same judge who had convicted the 16-year-old of voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault and sentenced him to five years' probation and treatment in a juvenile facility while holding him in custody, approved the trip.

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey
"If we can prevent one more case of abuse and prevent another horrible death, it would be a public service announcement worth making," Burge said of his decision to allow Danny to be on the show.

The intent of the show, according to Danny's attorney, Michael Stepanik, was to present the human side of the very unusual case.

"This is a way to warn children about the dangers of such a situation," Stepanik said. "As Judge Burge described it, it's a public service announcement."

The Oprah segment focused on the grooming process, how Hurley built his trust with Danny and his family and how Danny then snapped and killed Hurley by stabbing him 55 times after striking him in the head with a pickle jar.

"Do you feel that the sentence was fair?" Oprah asked Danny at one point.

"I feel it was fair," he responded.

At another point in the show Oprah asked Danny what he might say to other abused children harboring feelings similar to his.

"You need to come out and say something, because it's not your fault," he said. "No one is going to blame you. Man up...I don't feel great for killing someone. I know that's wrong. I feel relieved because everything is done, but I feel bad to an extent."

The episode aired on Monday, October 18, 2010.

 

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