‘Starry Night murder’ denied pre-trial release in California


Larry Hurwitz must stay behind bars on drug trafficking charges because he left the country after murdering Tim Moreau in Portland in 1990

An archive photo of Larry Hurwitz. (Portland Tribune)

PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Portland murderer Larry Hurwitz’s past finally caught up to him in a California courtroom on Friday, April 17.

Hurwitz was denied pre-trial release on drug trafficking charges because he had left the country while suspected of a 1990 killing here. He refused to voluntarily return from Vietnam after being indicted on federal tax evasion charges seven years later, and was only deported back to Portland after his passport was revoked.

Hurwitz was not convicted of the murder of Tim Moreau until after he pleaded guilty to the tax evasion charges in 1998. Only then did former associates begin telling authorities what they knew about Hurwitz’s involvement in the murder, which finally resulted in his conviction in 2000 — 10 years after the murder. Hurwitz struck a plea bargain agreement and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Now Hurwitz is being held without bail in a Southern California jail after being arrested with two kilos of cocaine and more than $328,000 in cash in Huntington Beach on June 27 of last year. Earlier this month, he asked the Orange County Superior Court to release him without bail under a statewide emergency order to reduce jail populations to slow the spread of COVID-19 behind bars. 

During the dramatic pre-trial release hearing, Hurwitz’s retained attorney, William Weinberg, argued that his client clearly qualified to be released under the emergency order because the charges against him did not involve violence — and were not even serious. In addition Weinberg said, if Hurwitz is released, he must be returned to Multnomah County to face sanctioning violating parole. Hurwitz is prohibited from visiting California because that is where Moreau’s family lives.

The Orange County prosecutor objected to Hurwitz’s release and argued the order would allow the judge to consider the murder if it had happened in California. He also said Hurwitz was clearly a flight risk because he had fled the country before and was arrested in California with a large amount of cash, which suggests he has more assets available to him. 

In addition, the prosecutor said, Hurwitz had been sanctioned previously by Multnomah County parole officials for leaving Oregon without permission, and now only faces a maximum of six months in jail here, where officials are also under pressure to reduce the number of inmates because of the pandemic.

The Moreau family also opposed the pre-trial release.

“We strongly believe Hurwitz is a threat to public safety. We believe he is trying to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to get a pass for the crimes he was caught committing in California and the numerous violations of his parole conditions in Oregon. We will continue to hold Hurwitz accountable for the brutal murder of our son Tim and exercise our rights as crime victims,” Tim’s parents Mike and Penny Moreau told the Portland Tribune.

After the April 17 ruling, the judge scheduled a motion from Hurwitz’s attorney to suppress the evidence against him for June 12 and a pre-trial hearing for June 30. It is unclear whether COVID-19 limits on court hearings will be lifted by then.

Hurwitz was arrested on his current charges during a traffic stop. He was initially pulled over for talking on a cell phone while driving.

According to the arrest report, the officer thought Hurwitz was acting extremely nervously, and a grocery bag with a large amount of cash was clearly visible in the back seat of his car. The officer also smelled burnt marijuana. A subsequent search of the car turned up the cocaine in one grocery bag and the cash in two others.

Hurwitz originally denied knowing anything about the drugs or money. But in a subsequent interview after being arrested, Hurwitz said the cash belonged to him. He claimed he earned it as a “producer” in Portland in the 1980s and 1990s, and had taken it out of a Merrill Lynch account. The police did not believe Hurwitz, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security seized it as illegal drug profits.

Hurwitz owned the Starry Night rock club in 1990 when he murdered Moreau, his promotion manager, to cover up his own involvement in a counterfeit ticket scheme. Moreau had moved to Portland from New Orleans to attend Reed College before going to work for Hurwitz.

Hurwitz pleaded no contest to murdering Moreau in 1999 and then confirmed the overwhelming evidence against him to settle a civil wrongful death suit brought by his victim’s parents in 2001. Hurwitz also agreed to pay the Moreaus $3 million for the death, but has only paid a small fraction of that since being released in 2008.

After being released from prison in Oregon in 2008, Hurwitz was repeatedly caught traveling out of state without permission by Multnomah County Parole and Probation officials, who are charged with supervising him. He has been placed on house arrest, required to wear a GPS monitoring device, and made to perform community service, according to post-release supervision records obtained by the Portland Tribune through a public records request.

Although Hurwitz was required to wear a GPS device as recently as December 2018, he was not wearing one when he was arrested in California.

You can read pervious stories about the case at https://pamplinmedia.com/pt/9-news/434010-343476.

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