'Fool' or 'egotistical'? Lawyers paint different portraits of accused in Cynthia Crampton killing

Lawyers agree Hurd committed the crime but disagree on the degree to which he planned the June 2016 murder of Crampton.

Defence and Crown agree Tyler Hurd killed Crampton, but divided on 1st-degree versus 2nd-degree murder

Tyler Hurd, 35, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Cynthia Crampton. (Tyler Hurd/Facebook)

The lawyers on both sides agree: Tyler Hurd killed 55-year-old Saskatoon mother Cynthia Crampton more than a year ago.

But the degree to which Hurd planned the crime is what has the lawyers sharply divided — and calling for different sentences.

Tyler Hurd, 35, is accused of first-degree murder. He confessed to police that he planned and eventually carried out the killing in June 2016.

Hurd told police he hit Crampton in the head several times with a hammer and then strangled her with a towel bar he ripped off her bathroom wall.

'Knew exactly what he was doing' 

Crown prosecutor Sheryl Fillo, making her final argument to the jury Thursday, said there's no question Hurd deserves to be sentenced for first-degree murder.

Cynthia Crampton is seen in this undated photo with her two daughters. (Submitted by Shanda Leftley)

"He knew exactly what he was doing and kept going until he was absolutely sure she was dead," said Fillo.

That planning extended beyond the act of killing, she said.

She argued that Hurd had planned to make it look like Crampton was still alive by gaining access to her phone. The night before, he tried to memorize the password but ultimately failed, she said.

"By his own words, there is only one verdict and that is first-degree murder, because it was planned and deliberate."

'Halfway to Mexico'

Hurd's defence attorney, Morris Bodnar, is calling for a sentence of second-degree murder.

He said Hurd may have intended to kill Crampton but lacked the intelligence to skillfully plan her murder and his escape.

"He should have been halfway to Mexico," after the killing, Bodnar said. According to an agreed statement of facts, Hurd stayed in Crampton's small basement suite for two days after her death, with her body locked behind the bathroom door.

"How in his right mind would he have stayed for two or three days … if he had planned a getaway?"

The judge is expected to give the jury their instructions on Friday.

'Cold-blooded premeditated murder'

In his three-hour long confession video to police, Hurd described the killing in detail.

Fillo said she's never heard anyone confess the way Hurd did, saying things like "I'm about to freaking crack someone's skull open and carry out cold-blooded premeditated murder."

A hammer found near Cynthia Crampton's body, entered into evidence. (Charles Hamilton/CBC)

Toward the end of this taped confession, Hurd said he suffered from psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder and depression. He claimed he was previously prescribed medication, but hadn't taken the drugs in years.

Hurd also admitted he was a drug user who regularly used crystal meth, fentanyl and other illegal drugs.  

Hurd and his girlfriend, Tammy Poffley, were regular visitors to Crampton's basement suite, the trial has heard. Crampton would often let the couple stay with her while they were homeless.

Tyler Hurd is on trial for the first-degree murder of Cynthia Crampton. (Saskatoon Police Service)

Bodnar told the courtroom Thursday that Crampton was coming between Hurd and Poffley because Crampton was selling Poffley painkillers.

"She was being destroyed by the drugs being supplied by the deceased and he is going to lose her," said Bodnar.

The lawyers chose decidedly different words to describe what kind of man Hurd is.

Bodnar called his client "a fool," a man whose life "fell apart" after his wife died of cancer.

Fillo was less sympathetic in her description of Hurd.

"This is a person who is very egotistical, centred on himself," she said.  

Remorse for Crampton's family

Speaking to police, Hurd said his only real regret was that Crampton's death was so prolonged. When asked what he would say to Crampton's daughters, he said he was remorseful that he killed their mother.

"I don't feel bad but for [her daughters'] sake, I feel horrible. I feel really bad. Cindy was still somebody's mother, somebody's daughter."

But he said soon afterward that if he had the chance he would do it all over again.

"I was OK with it then, when it was theoretical, and I'm OK with it now," he said.

About the Author

Charles Hamilton

Charles Hamilton is a reporter with CBC Saskatoon.