The family of a man murdered almost one year ago at a Longboat Key resort announced Thursday it is filing a lawsuit in connection with his death.
On Thursday, family of Timothy Hurley, who investigators say was shot and killed at Zota Beach Resort in Longboat Key during a robbery, sat next to attorney Matt Morgan of Morgan and Morgan at his Orlando office just two days shy of the one-year anniversary of Hurley’s death.
Together, they announced they filed a negligence and wrongful death lawsuit against the resort and the security firm, Victory Security Agency II, LLC. The lawsuit was filed in Manatee County on Wednesday.
Hurley’s family may never see justice in the form of a criminal trial.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
“The Zota family of employees still mourn the tragic losses of Timothy Hurley and Kevin Carter. This was a shocking crime that rocked all of Longboat Key which had not seen a murder of any kind in 17 years. The Zota family joins the rest of Longboat Key and the Hurley and Carter families in expressing our profound gratitude to all of the dedicated detectives and officers who worked tirelessly to quickly identify and apprehend the man solely responsible for this unspeakable crime,” a spokeswoman for Zota Beach Resort said in an email statement.
Jason Jerabek, president of Victor Security Agency II, LLC declined to comment on the lawsuit over email.
Morgan said they believe Hurley’s death was preventable and foreseeable.
“This tragedy for the family has been unimaginable in the sense that it took someone who was the center of their universe permanently and forever, thereby altering the course of their lives,” Morgan said.
Attorneys said Thursday this lawsuit “should send a message to security companies” about background searches when hiring employees.
“From the standpoint of what were fairly confident the evidence is going to show, information was available that if the businesses at issue had simply done the most basic checks and had simple followed the most basic responsibilities this would not have happened,” said Herb Hofmann of Morgan and Morgan.
Hurley, 59, of Sarasota and night front desk manager for Zota Beach Resort was one of two employees shot and killed in the early-morning hours of Aug. 4, 2017, at the resort in the 4700 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive. Security guard Kevin Carter, 51, of Bradenton, was also killed.
It was the first homicide in the quiet beach city since 2000 and inside a resort that opened just two months earlier.
During Thursday’s news conference, family members spoke of how Hurley “held the family together.” His death was a moment that changed the lives of his family members forever, his niece, Kristine Greer said. She was joined by Hurley’s sister, Susan Hurley.
“I never realized how much we relied on Tim and how much Tim really did for our family until he wasn’t there anymore,” Greer said through tears. “He was my dad in every sense of the word.”
Their family lived together; Greer said she grew up in a home with her two aunts, uncle, grandmother and mother.
“Tim was a huge player in everything. From teaching me how to ride a bike to helping Grams take a shower to helping pay the bills,” Greer said.
Her grandmother, she said, is “shattered and heartbroken.”
“In the last year we found out many... little information that it could have been prevented and that just makes it even worse. He could have been here,” Greer said.
At the time of the murders, Longboat Key Police Chief Pete Cumming said Hurley and Carter were approached during a robbery attempt and fatally shot. Nearly an hour passed before their bodies were discovered by a guest who called 911 around 3:30 a.m.
Longboat Key police took the lead in investigating the case with assistance from the multi-agency Manatee County Homicide Investigative Unit.
Surveillance video showed a masked suspect leaving the front door of the resort with cash register drawers that held about $900.
On Aug. 9, 2017, Darryl Hanna Jr., was arrested by police in a Bradenton home, charged with armed robbery and murder.
Police said Hanna, 30, was a disgruntled former employee who claimed he didn’t make enough money, and days before the shooting, complained about his schedule. Hanna had not worked at the resort since Aug. 2, two days before the shooting, his defense attorney told the court at his first appearance.
On Oct. 26, a development announced at a court proceeding brought the case to a halt. Hanna, who was being held in the Manatee County jail awaiting trial, had suffered a “stroke-like event” and was taken to the hospital with his condition not expected to improve, State Attorney Susanne O’Donnell said. The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Hanna suffered a medical event on Sept. 9 in jail.
He was released from the hospital and returned to the jail’s medical ward Oct. 11, but released from custody through the supervised release program April 4 after being declared incompetent to stand trial due to his vegetative state.
As part of his release, his attorney is required to file monthly updates with the court confirming his condition. As of July 25, Hanna’s medical condition and perceived competency remains unchanged, court records show.
Should Hanna come out of his vegetative state, his attorney was ordered to immediately notify the court.