Morrison denies 1986 killing
By PATRICK MCARDLE
STAFF WRITER | July 16,2014
Holly Pelczynski / Bennington Banner
David Morrison, extradited from California, enters Bennington criminal court Tuesday to plead to a charge that he killed local golf pro Sarah Hunter almost 30 years ago.
MANCHESTER — The man who police say killed Sarah Hunter, a popular Manchester golf pro, in 1986 is now in the Rutland jail awaiting trial for her murder.
David Allan Morrison, 53, pleaded innocent Tuesday in Bennington criminal court to a felony count of first-degree aggravated murder.
Hunter was reported missing Sept. 19, 1986. When her body was found more than two months later, police said she had been strangled and sexually assaulted.
State’s Attorney Erica Marthage pointed out in court that because Morrison is still under a prison sentence in California, he does not have a right to bail.
He has been serving a sentence of 20 years to life in California since 1988 for the kidnapping, sexual assault and attempted murder of a woman in that state. He is not finished serving that term.
Morrison was brought to Vermont under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers.
Marthage said the rules of the agreement require that Morrison’s trial start by Nov. 10.
Hunter’s sister, Lori Wyman of Maine, was in the courtroom Tuesday but didn’t react during the arraignment or speak to the media afterward.
After the hearing, Marthage said she was “very pleased we’ve been able to move this forward.”
“Even though it’s 28 years later, I feel like crimes of that nature are few and far between in a small community,” the prosecutor said. “I’m pleased that the hard work of the Vermont State Police and the Manchester Police Department made it possible for us to pursue charges after all these years.”
Manchester Police Chief Mike Hall, who attended the arraignment, agreed that it was a “long time coming.”
“It’s a pleasure to see it happen,” said Hall, who was a Manchester police officer when Hunter went missing in 1986.
After Hunter disappeared, police found her car outside a Main Street gas station and carwash. Hall said he was one of two officers who found the car.
“It was just one of those things you knew probably wasn’t going to turn out good,” he recalled.
Morrison was working at another gas station, close to the one where Hunter’s car was found, on the night she disappeared. He was a suspect but police didn’t have enough evidence at the time to charge him, according to an affidavit filed in the case.
Morrison was interviewed twice, in October 1987 and January 1988, and then left Vermont for California in 1988.
A hair, found in a car that Morrison used in Vermont but left behind when he went to California, was tested by the FBI in 2010. Investigators concluded that the probability that the hair belonged to Hunter was greater than 99 percent.
While Morrison has been interviewed by police several times about Hunter’s murder, he has never confessed to being involved in any way, even during interviews conducted while he was in prison in California.
Morrison, who was bearded and wore glasses and a green prison uniform Tuesday, did not speak during his arraignment.
Attorney Chris Montgomery represented Morrison, although it was not clear if he will continue. Another hearing was scheduled for Friday to determine whether Montgomery or someone from the public defender’s office will be Morrison’s lawyer.