KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The convicted killer of a Corryton store owner is being sent to a maximum-security prison after a vigorous protest by the victim's brother over the killer's placement in a medium-security prison.
Tennessee Department of Correction officials say the placement of Robert Wayne Hurst, 41, in a medium-security facility was a temporary one, made only because a bed was immediately available there.
Hurst, 41, and his wife, Destiny Gertrude Hurst, 47, were convicted earlier this year of the 2009 murder of Jim Mullins, 64, during a robbery to get money to buy drugs. Both were sentenced to life without parole.
Destiny Hurst is at the Tennessee Prison for Women in Nashville, which includes a maximum-security section and a death row. She is classified as a medium-security prisoner.
After Robert Hurst's classification process at Morgan County Correctional Complex, he was moved July 3 to the South Central Correctional Facility in Wayne County, near the Alabama state line.
"He would have eventually been moved back into a maximum-security facility," TDOC s p o k e swoma n Dorinda Carter said. South Central is a Level 3 facility, the second-highest security level in the state prison system, and houses a number of inmates serving life sentences, Carter said.
Mullins, owner of the Rutledge Pike Discount Store, knew Robert Hurst, a regular customer. Mullins was stabbed multiple times, choked and shot with the pistol he kept in his store.
"Jim died a horrendous death," his brother Sonny Mullins said. "We were only four years apart (and very close). When I lost him, it was like losing a part of my body." Sonny Mullins said he "got bent out of shape" when he received a letter from TDOC stating that Hurst was being moved to a prison with a less than maximum-security level. He contacted TDOC officials to protest, sent emails to a number of other people urging them to do the same and posted the issue on Facebook.
He said a TDOC official called him Tuesday and told him Hurst would be returned to a maximumsecurity prison very soon.
"I slept real good, knowing that he was going to be going back into a place where he should be," Sonny Mullins said.
Carter said that when deciding where a prisoner is to be placed, TDOC weighs "many factors," including the severity of the crime and prior criminal history.
"We also want to be sensitive to the concerns of the victims and their families. But there are times when bed availability impacts our decisions, too," she said.