Cooke Co. re-examines 30-year-old death investigation

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COOKE COUNTY, TX -- For Kelly Harris it's about justice.

"There are so many discrepancies in the police record that had to be answered after 30 something years," she said.

She's the sister of Tracy Hunt, the man shot to death in Myra in October 1981.

And she wants answers.

"The fact that there was a bullet still in the chamber, and the gun would only shoot one bullet at a time. He would have had to have shot himself, reloaded, shot himself, and reloaded it again," she said.

The cause of death was originally ruled as "undetermined" after authorities couldn't agree on calling it a suicide or homicide. But Harris convinced the court to re-examine the case after presenting research she and her family collected.

"It was a unique death. You have a two gunshot wound victim who didn't leave a suicide note," said Judge Jason Brinkley.

Brinkley presided over Monday's hearing, which included testimony from the D.A. investigator who worked the case and former Sheriff Mike Compton.

"Thirty years after the fact, the evidence is going to be mostly based on reports and testimony given at that time," Brinkley said. "During today's proceedings we were able to question some witnesses that weren't questioned at that time."

But Harris doesn't trust the original report by lead investigator Dan Gourd, who was convicted of perjury in the '90s from an unrelated case.

"The medical examiner originally said it was a homicide. And after a conversation with Dan Gourd she changed her mind to a suicide," she said.

Harris also questioned why there was no gun residue on Hunt's hands and pointed out that her brother was scared for his life.

"He had been in something he was trying to get out of. He had straightened out his life," she said. "And I think they were trying to silence him. He knew too much."

Expert witnesses testified that it's common for gun residue swabs to give a false negative. They also say it's common for suicide victims to receive multiple gun shots.

"Those were the two questions that I had going into it," Brinkley said.

Brinkley says while some questions still remain the evidence presented was enough to convince him it was a suicide.

"There was no known individual who was wanting Mr. Hunt killed," he said.

The family's attorney says while he's disappointed with the outcome, he believes it all goes back to failures in the initial investigation.

"It is hard based on the burden of proof, for the judge to find that it is a homicide, when the police for themselves looked into it to prove a suicide," said, Ryan Creck, the family's attorney.

Harris said she's thankful they got their day in court, but it still doesn't bring closure to the family.

"Because the person who did this is still out there. There are people who know what happened," she said.

Harris said they're looking into a possible appeal and hopes to one day get her questions answered.

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