40 Years For 2009 Shooting Death

WHEELING – Jarell Lee Hurt will spend at least 10 years of a 40-year sentence in prison for the September 2009 murder of 19-year-old Ashley Blankenship.

In November, Hurt, 22, pleaded guilty to a charge of second-degree murder.

On Sept. 13, 2009, Hurt, Blankenship and Jerome Saunders arrived at Hurt’s North Park apartment. While inside, Hurt fired a single, fatal gunshot to the back of Blankenship’s head as she sat on the arm of a couch. Following the murder, Hurt and Saunders fled the residence. Responding officers found the 19-year-old Blankenship dead upon arriving at the scene at 5:40 a.m. Hurt turned himself in to law enforcement after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Authorities do not know the motive for the murder, and Hurt offered no further insight during sentencing Friday.

“No, sir,” Hurt replied when Ohio County Circuit Judge Arthur Recht extended him the opportunity to address the court.

Blankenship’s mother and brother were present to provide impact statements.

“I don’t know what to call you – Jarell, Mr. Hurt, monster,” said Blankenship’s mother, Terri Blankenship. “You’re all three.”

“I cry every day, sometimes all day,” she added.

Terri Blankenship said her daughter had considered Hurt a friend and questioned what type of friend could commit such a “vicious murder.”

“I hate you and everything about you,” she told Hurt. “I wish West Virginia had a death penalty.”

Charles Blankenship told the court his sister was his “best friend.”

Recht imposed the maximum sentence of 40 years. Hurt will be eligible for parole after serving 10 years of that term.

Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Barki said it is his hope that Hurt’s sentencing provided Blankenship’s family with closure, noting nothing can compensate for the loss they have experienced.