HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — After three days of testimony the jury has reached a verdict in the capital murder case against Warren Hardy, a man accused of killing 72-year-old NASA retiree, Kathleen Lundy in August 2016.
The jury found Hardy guilty on all five charges:
- One count of capital murder in the commission of a robbery
- One count of first-degree kidnapping
- One count of first-degree kidnapping
- One count of first-degree domestic violence and aggravated stalking
- One count of discharging a gun into an occupied vehicle
Jurors spent about four hours deliberating on Wednesday and met for a short time Thursday morning before announcing their decision.
Hardy, who had been formerly employed as a bus driver through a company contracted with Huntsville City Schools, was facing the above charges from an incident that happened in 2016 – one that authorities referred to as a “crime spree.”
According to court documents, Hardy allegedly kidnapped his ex-girlfriend’s (Jessica Holtcamp) daughter and stepfather by holding them at gunpoint and forcing them to drive to another residence to look for Holtcamp.
This was just days after Holtcamp had filed a protection order against Hardy. Court records showed at this point, Hardy had not been officially served a notice of the order.
When Hardy found Holtcamp, he forced her into the car at gunpoint. That’s when her stepfather (Lee Bradford) was able to drive away before Hardy could get back in the car with them.
Hardy began searching on foot for another vehicle and noticed Kathleen Lundy stepping out of her home as she was heading to a friendly gathering. According to court documents, Hardy approached her, demanded her car keys, shot her and then stole her car.
Lundy’s husband Rusty testified during the trial that he had been sitting in the living room with their 5-year-old granddaughter watching cartoons. Kathleen had been preparing food to take to a neighborhood gathering.
Rusty testified he saw Hardy coming up the driveway, grab her around the neck and pull her. That’s when Rusty said he gave the keys to Hardy, who then shot his wife and pushed her into the house.
The audio of Rusty’s 911 call was played in court.
Hardy eventually caught up to the car Holtcamp and her family were in and fired shots into it, but the three were able to escape unharmed.
Hardy fled to Tennessee but was arrested in the state two days later.
The penalty phase started Thursday morning, where the jury will decide if Hardy should be sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole or given the death penalty.
Witnesses were called back to the stand to give statements as part of the penalty proceedings.
Rusty Lundy took the stand again to describe the struggles his family has gone through since the death of his wife and more of the audio from his 911 call was played for the court.
Members of Hardy’s family also spoke about Hardy’s character and his love for his seven-year-old daughter who has cancer.
Defense attorney Larry Marsili urged jurors to give Hardy a life sentence without parole, rather than the death penalty. He said Hardy’s mental health issues were not an excuse but did have an effect on that fatal day.
Marsili also asked jurors to consider if Hardy should be condemned for his actions on the worst day of his life.
Prosecutor Tim Gann said the death penalty was justice for Hardy and that his actions were shocking. He added Hardy could have taken Lundy’s car without killing her but he did.
Gann also said they were asking for a death sentence, not because of the emotion of the moment but because he earned it.
Because the case happened in 2016, before the state abolished the rule of judicial override in 2017, the jury’s decision for or against the death penalty is a recommendation and Madison County Circuit Court Judge Chris Comer will have the final say on the issue.
It takes 10 of 12 jurors to recommend the death penalty. If it’s fewer than 10 jurors, the recommendation is life without parole.