City councilman's violent past comes to light

City councilman's violent past comes to light
PACIFIC, Wash. -- The small town of Pacific is in shock after learning that a member of its local government is a convicted murderer.

Gary Hulsey has been a member of the Pacific City Council since 2007. Now his past is sparking debate about just how much voters should know about the people they elect and how a murderer could get a seat on the city council.

Hulsey insists he's not a liar, but the two-term councilman is a convicted felon who admits to stabbing his wife to death.

The KOMO 4 Problem Solvers pored over 34-year old court records to uncover the crime.

In late October of 1978, charging documents say police came to the Hulsey home and found Gary staggering outside shirtless with blood across his chest.

He asked for a shirt and a light for his cigarette before telling the officers that he killed his wife, Darlene.

Police found her on the couple's blood-soaked waterbed with a hunting knife sticking up from her rib cage.

The officers took Hulsey into custody and even though he was legally drunk at the time, he confessed to everything.

His lawyer made him later plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

Now, more than three decades later, Hulsey is speaking out about whether or not he was insane when he killed his wife.

"The definition of insanity, I don't know whether I knew. I have no, I don't recall what happened that night," he said.

Hulsey is a Vietnam vet, and he said those memories were tough to shake.

"I used to drink myself into oblivion so I wouldn't have to remember my dreams or have dreams or nightmares," he said.

He said some damage can't be undone.

"Military teaches you very well how to kill without a second thought," he said.

Hulsey blames post traumatic stress disorder and alcohol for the murder, but he said he has few memories of that night.

State doctors didn't find him insane, but they determined he had "a long history of violence." In their final opinion, the doctors said "this defendant is dangerous and does require institutional control."

Hulsey was found guilty of second degree murder in 1979 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

He was granted parole just eight years later. He later regained his rights to vote and won office in Pacific in 2007.

And until now, nearly no one in Pacific -- including other council members -- knew that he's a murderer.

Council chair Leanne Guier has mixed feelings about the news.

"It surprised me," she said. "I was shocked to hear about it but I don't think it makes me fearful of him or uneasy about sitting with him on council."

Councilman Josh Putnam has seen no signs of trouble.

"Rational, not violent, has been a productive member of the council," he said.

Former Mayor Howard Erickson disagrees.

"I just don't think we should be letting people out of prison to serve on city council in any city, any state , any country," he said.

One thing council members were curious about was whether it was even legal for Hulsey to run for public office.

Because the state Sentence Review Board determined that Hulsey had fulfilled the terms of his supervision and parole, the only restriction was that he couldn't posses a firearm.

He can, however, vote and hold office. That right was given to him in January, 1992.

Just eight months after earning the right to vote, Hulsey was busted for soliciting a prostitute, but the law says that conviction has no effect on his voting status or his eligibility for city council.

Despite his violent crime, Hulsey said he doesn't think voters should be concerned about his past.

Whether it was booze, war trauma or something darker we can't understand, there are some truths that just can't be buried.

"We can't change history," Hulsey said. "But if there was anything I could do to go back and change that one night, even if it cost my own life, I would do that."

Hulsey won't run for another term in office after this four year tenure is up. He said he wants to spend more time with his family and live a regular life.