- Associated Press - Thursday, June 29, 2017

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - A Fayette County man who shot and killed a state game warden during a drug raid 15 years ago has been denied parole.

David Mosher, 57, is serving five consecutive life sentences related to the March 2002 death of Jimmy Hutto.

Mosher avoided a possible death penalty by pleading guilty to murder, three counts of attempted murder and distribution of a controlled substance in 2003. The hearing Wednesday was his first chance at parole.

Around 30 conservation officers, the victim’s family and prosecutors spoke against his release. Mosher’s daughter and wife testified on his behalf.

District Attorney Chris McCool testified that Hutto was a good officer and a good man. He always pitched in and helped when needed, McCool said, which is what he was doing the night he lost his life. He asked how Hutto’s life would have been had he lived — would he have been promoted, moved on to other jobs, become a grandfather?

“We can’t answer those questions — David Mosher took that away,” McCool said. “The water of those days has flowed so far under the bridge that it’s in the ocean by now. But what we can do is ensure that the case of the State vs. David Mosher stands for something — for justice for Jimmy Hutto.”

McCool said that Mosher’s daughter and wife said that he had completed courses while in prison, has been rehabilitated and would comply with release conditions. She read a letter from him, McCool said, apologizing for the pain he caused.

“As a pastor, I believe in eternal grace, but I also believe in consequences in time, here and now,” said McCool, who interrupted a family vacation to fly home to Alabama for the hearing. “Those are not incompatible, and are biblical principles. I pray Mosher has found grace, but I believe he should serve his life in prison.”

Hutto was assisting drug task forces from Fayette and Marion counties when he was shot on March 8, 2002. The agents were serving a search warrant at a residence in Fayette County that was believed to be the site of a methamphetamine operation.

Task force members approached the home, announced who they were and kicked in the door. When Hutto stepped inside, Mosher shot the officer in the hip, authorities said.

Hutto was taken to a hospital in Birmingham, where he remained for two weeks before being sent home. He was rushed from his Fayette home to Fayette Medical Center on March 25 with respiratory problems and died that day from a blood clot.

McCool said that while it was believed Hutto’s death resulted from the gunshot wound, the fact that he died three weeks after the incident could have made it more difficult to convince jurors and a judge to give him the death penalty.

Mosher initially pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, but state doctors ruled he was competent enough to stand trial.

State sentencing guidelines ensure that Mosher has the opportunity for parole every 15 years.

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Information from: The Tuscaloosa News, https://www.tuscaloosanews.com

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