Drifter Timothy Scott Meskimen, who was found guilty last month of killing Edgar Hurst in the spring of 2010, was sentenced Friday to 251/2 years in prison — 20 years for the slaying, five years for hiding the body in a shallow grave, and six months for his courtroom conduct after he was sentenced on the first two charges.
Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael cited Meskimen for contempt of court and gave him the additional six months shortly after Meskimen lifted his middle finger at a television news crew.
Meskimen was sentenced in the slaying of Hurst, 50, who was found beaten to death at a makeshift campsite along North Broadway, near Interstate 75 in Lexington.
Hurst had left his Northridge Drive home to buy a pack of cigarettes on March 27, 2010, and never returned. His body was found several days later.
Defense attorneys said Meskimen, who went by the nickname "Alabama," killed Hurst in self defense.
Meskimen was convicted after a three-day jury trial in September.
On Friday, the judge told Meskimen that, even though Meskimen was down on his luck, it did not justify taking a life.
"All I know is everybody was drunker than a hoot owl," things escalated and a life was taken, Ishmael said. The judge also said he was offended by Meskimen's burying Hurst in a shallow grave, then covering it with a door.
Ishmael said Meskimen went about his business, drinking and rolling around town, for about a week after Hurst was killed.
"The conscience of our community spoke through the jury verdict," Ishmael said.
The judge ruled that the sentences — 20 years for first-degree manslaughter and five years for tampering with physical evidence — run consecutively, for a total of 25 years. That went against the jury's recommendation that sentences run concurrently.
The judge, apparently explaining his decision to run the felony sentences consecutively, said the killing and burial were separate and distinct acts.
Just after handing down the sentence, Ishmael told Meskimen he found it difficult to have sympathy for him.
"I'm not asking you to give me no sympathy," said Meskimen, whose 40th birthday is Saturday.
As he was being led to a holdover next to the courtroom, Meskimen made the obscene gesture to news crews.
Ishmael called for Meskimen to be brought back into the courtroom. Meskimen, who at first refused to come out of the holdover, asked the judge what he was going to do, "give me more time?"
When Ishmael asked Meskimen about his courtroom gesture, Meskimen indicated that he was upset because the judge hadn't followed the jury's recommendation that his sentences run concurrently.
Ishmael and Meskimen continued with their verbal exchange, then Meskimen said to Ishmael, "(expletive) you, judge." Ishmael responded, "Thank you, sir."
Under Kentucky law, misdemeanors such as contempt of court must be served concurrently with felonies. So, the total amount of prison time for Meskimen is 25 years. He will be eligible for parole after serving 20 years. As of Friday, Meskimen, who has been in jail since April 7, 2010, had 563 days of custody credit to be subtracted from the 25 years.
The jury also convicted Meskimen on charges of alcohol intoxication and third-degree trespassing, which stemmed from a disturbance at the Sportsman Motel on Winchester Road not long after the killing. Both charges are misdemeanors that carry a maximum of 12 months in jail. Ishmael sentenced Meskimen to time served on those charges.
"Nobody deserves what happened to my brother," Hurst's brother, Raymond Hurst, said. He said he hated that his brother's grandchildren had been robbed of a grandfather.
Raymond Hurst said he thought Meskimen received a just sentence.