Suspect in 1986 golf pro murder to return for trial
BENNINGTON -- Well over a year has passed since the state announced it planned to charge a man serving a lengthy sentence in a California prison with the 1986 murder of Sarah Hunter in Manchester, but the process to bring David Allan Morrison to Vermont has begun.
Bennington County State's Attorney Erica Marthage said Friday that an extradition hearing for Morrison, 54, was held on Tuesday in Solano County, Calif. A 30-day appeal period must play out before the United States Marshal Service can begin transporting Morrison to Vermont.
Marthage said if he does not appeal it will take at least six to eight weeks before he can be arraigned on a first degree murder charge in Bennington County. Prisoners are no longer transported via air, she said, and so the Marshal Service will need some time to move Morrison through a network of detention facilities.
According to Vermont State Police, Hunter, who had been a golf pro, was reported missing on Sept. 19, 1986. Her body was found in Pawlet and it appeared the 36-year-old had been strangled. Police suspected Morrison of the crime and interviewed him but it was not until 2012 when advances in DNA testing allowed them to link Morrison to the incident.
Marthage said he is serving a 20-year-to-life sentence for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman in California. That incident occurred not long after Hunter's death.
The arrest warrant was issued by Vermont in February 2013 but Marthage waited until October to file the request to have him sent here. She said once that request is filed there is a limited amount of time for the state to bring the case to trial. Marthage said the time was used to make sure the case was prepared, as was the extradition process.
She does not know if the matter will go to trial or end in a plea agreement.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.
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