NEW PORT RICHEY — In July 2011, Candis Spinks went to see her friend, William Hurst. Under her clothing, a Pasco County detective had placed a recording device.
She asked if he had killed his wife 29 years earlier.
"No, I did not,'' Hurst said.
That's not what detectives were saying, Spinks told him.
Hurst grew emotional. "I never loved anyone as much before, or since," he said.
His words echoed through a Pasco courtroom on Wednesday as prosecutors sought to convict him of murdering Amy Rose Hurst in 1982 and dumping her body in the Gulf of Mexico. Authorities used DNA comparisons to finally identify her in 2011. They tracked the man they say killed her to his home in Kentucky and enlisted Spinks, who has had her own trouble with the law.
Their first recorded conversation was by phone. "Bill, listen, the detective just f---ing came to me man about this bulls--t that's going on. You asked me not to f----ing say nothing. I didn't say nothing but I could get burned with this … You f---ing killed your wife. What the f---?"
"No, I did not." Hurst said.
Then Pasco sheriff's Detective Lisa Schoneman sent Spinks to his house.
"I'm not going to tell nobody nothing," Spinks told Hurst. "I'm worried about you … worried about you and I want you to tell me what's going on. I'm not going to say nothing to f---ing nobody else, it ain't nobody's f---ing business."
"You know," he said before pausing and crying. "You know how everybody …"
"Everybody what?" Spinks asked.
"All right," he said. "You know as well as I do that everybody has one true love in their life."
"And she was mine," he said.
After more conversation in which he described his wife as "feisty,'' Hurst said he argued with her one night. " never hit her or nothing, but she was laying on the couch. She got p---ed off at me and she went and kicked me. She went and kicked me. She missed me. Her head went down and it busted her head open."
He said the apartment had concrete floors. "She hit her head and it killed her. I didn't hit her or nothing.''
"The what happened?" Spinks asked. "I mean after she died, what happened?"
"I freaked out. I didn't know what to do. We don't have insurance. I didn't have no funeral coverage. I didn't have nothing. I ain't telling you the rest of it because you'll be telling someone else."
"I ain't going to tell," Spinks said.
"Well," he said. "I took her — I didn't take her out to the Gulf of Mexico, which is where they found her. I didn't do that."
"I'm just trying to figure out what happened," Spinks said.
"I'm not a murderer," he said.
"I didn't say you was."
"I mean I killed people in Vietnam," he said, "but I'm not a murderer, okay?"
"That's why I'm asking you what happened to her body is what I'm trying to find out. I'm your friend Bill … I mean what did you do with her, though?"
"After I freaked out I got in touch with a couple of friends of mine, (cocaine) dealers down in Florida and they disposed of the body and what they did with it, I have no idea … I have been crying for three days."
After the recording played in court, defense attorney Dean Livermore asked Spinks, 32, if she had ever been convicted of any felonies. Several, she said. She is currently serving time in Kentucky for possession of drugs and child endangerment.
Spinks wasn't only person to wear a wire, or testify on Wednesday. Elmer Kruse, a friend of Hurst's, also went to his house wearing a wire. Hurst told Kruse "my past has caught up with me" and how he once got rid of a body for drug dealers.
Closing arguments in the case are expected today.
Jon Silman can be reached at (727) 869-6229 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.