Homicide charge dropped in Van Den Hurk murder

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During a pre-trial hearing in Den Bosch on Thursday, the Public Prosecution Authority (OM) formally dropped the homicide charge against Jos de G., the accused killer of teenaged girl Nicole van den Hurk from Eindhoven. The 15-year-old was found murdered 19 years ago after having been missing for months.

Jos de G., of Helmond, will still be prosecuted for manslaughter and rape. The OM told the court the homicide charge was dropped due to the forensic evidence in the case. In an interview with the NL Times, Nicole's stepbrother, Andy van den Hurk said he is angry the charge was reduced to manslaughter, and feels as though justice will not be served. He said he would like to see the justice system revised "where convicted people who rape can't just walk free again." Jos de G. has previously been convicted of raping two different women.

Ad van den Hurk, Nicole and Andy's father, told reporters he was particularly disappointed in the prosecutor's decision. "This man deserves the highest punishent there is. He has already attempted to murder two women in the past and has taken the life of my child. The Netherlands is not helped by this, that such a man may still walk the streets." For Andy, the distinction between leaving someone at the scene of a crime, versus actively moving the victim miles away and leaving them for dead is why he believes the homicide charge should have been pursued by the prosecutor. "If he left her there, alive or death [sic], that's manslaughter. To move a body within your own free will, that's murder." The murder has kept Andy up at night, and his fiancee David James says he has done his best to help keep Andy moving forward in life. You know it's been hard, but he sometimes screams at night," David said. "Pain. All I can say is pain." The defense attorney also continued to push to clear Jos de G. in the case, saying that DNA found at the scene does not only point towards his client, as the girl was sexually active shortly before her death. To this, Andy simply said, "The defense attorney is a very clever man." Nicole went missing after she left her grandmother's house by bicycle to go to her part-time job at a supermarket. She was discovered raped and murdered in the forests between Mierlo and Lierop two months later. In the years that followed, the mystery of her death became more and more complicated. Both Ad and Andy were pinned as suspects in the months and years that followed. Nicole's body was also exhumed three years ago in relation to the investigations. Time after time, the case ran into a dead end. At the start of this year, the case finally got momentum again when Jos de G. was apprehended. He is an involuntary psychiatric treatment patient, and investigators say there is the trace evidence from the crime scene matched Jos de G.'s DNA. Jos de G. has two previous convictions of rape on his record. According to his own statement in the case of the second incident, De G. chose a 'random' victim, whom he pulled off her bike and raped in a bed of reeds. De G. has staunchly denied having anything to do with the disappearance and murder of Nicole. De G.'s lawyer previously brought forward the fact that it would not be provable that Nicole was raped if she was sexually active. He pointed out that the girl may have been pregnant at the time of the murder. "These are a lawyer's shenanigans", father Ad reacted. "He is the devil's advocate in the end. I do not want to comment on these allegations, I'll leave that to the Justice Department." With reporting by Maxime Zech & Mirjam Meijer.

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