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Neighbors, lawyer speak fondly of Yurish

April 13, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Ernie Hedrick stopped riding his lawn mower Tuesday afternoon in neighbor Joy Yurish's yard and spoke fondly of the man who once lived there, but was shot dead Monday by police who saw him threatening his estranged wife with a knife.

Michael Bosworth Yurish, 51, was killed Monday at 2:48 a.m. by two West Virginia State Police troopers who were dispatched to Joy Yurish's 92 Hedrick Ave. home for a domestic violence call. When troopers arrived, they saw Michael Yurish threaten Joy Yurish with a kitchen knife, asked him twice to drop it and, when he didn't cooperate, fatally shot him, West Virginia State Police 1st Sgt. Lisa Lambert said.

The Yurishes, who have two daughters, were Hedrick's neighbors for years, he said.

The Yurishes were married for 18 years, but Joy Yurish told Michael Yurish she was seeking a divorce in November 2004, said Harley O. Wagner, Michael Yurish's former attorney. Wagner represented Yurish on an attempted murder charge related to an alleged attack on Joy Yurish on Nov. 17, 2004.

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Hedrick said he hadn't seen Michael Yurish since before Christmas but when Yurish was in his neighborhood, he felt he was "just a good guy. I have nothing bad to say about him at all."

Hedrick, who moved into his 43 Hedrick Avenue home in 1964, said his address was Ridge Avenue before Michael Yurish decided it needed to be renamed in Hedrick's honor.

Yurish petitioned to have the street renamed Hedrick Avenue since Hedrick's house was the first one on the street and he had worked on the road.

Hedrick said Yurish helped throw a surprise party to tell him of the news. He said he talked to Yurish daily. Yurish used Hedrick's garage to work on cars, and Yurish would help him out on any number of things, Hedrick said.

"He was a good neighbor. He'd do anything you asked him for," Hedrick said. "I feel sorry for him. I wish I could have done more to help."

Wagner said Michael Yurish "had been battling severe depression and anxiety issues for the past couple of years."

Wagner said it wasn't until the summer of 2004 when Yurish's demeanor took a turn. Yurish became more withdrawn, Wagner said.

Since then, Yurish sought help for depression and anxiety at Chestnut Ridge Hospital in Morgantown, W.Va., and court proceedings related to the attempted murder charge were put on hold while involved parties awaited some diagnoses with hopes he would turn around, Wagner said.

"We tried to get him back to a healthy existence," Wagner said. "Mrs. Yurish decided to move on with her life, and Michael had to come to grips with it."

Wagner said when the charges were brought against Yurish in November, "all the parties agreed that this was a good man, a sweet man who never had a history of violence. We thought he was capable of getting back."

Wagner said stringent bond conditions were put in place after Yurish was alleged to have attempted to strangle his estranged wife with an extension cord. Yurish was not allowed to have contact with Joy Yurish or their children. The treatment facility in Morgantown was selected because of its distance from Martinsburg, Wagner said.

Wagner said he hopes and prays for Joy Yurish's well-being and wonders how she's coping with seeing her husband of 18 years and the father of her children shot in front of her.

Attempts to reach the Yurish family Tuesday were unsuccessful.

On Tuesday afternoon, a woman whose eyes were reddened left Joy Yurish's home saying she was going next door to get a box of tissues and return to the house. She did not want to comment. She said no one was in the residence and asked a reporter to leave.

Down the road, Danny Nichols, 64, of 167 Hedrick Avenue, said he used to see Michael Yurish run down the street and saw Joy Yurish out walking. He was surprised to hear of the shooting.

"I didn't think it would be in him to get in that situation, but you never know, you never know," he said.

Wagner said Michael Yurish came from a family of coaches and educators.

Jaimee Borger, director of media services for Berkeley County Schools, said Yurish worked as a substitute teacher in the school system, but his employment ended in 2000. She did not know how long he was employed there.

Wagner said that over the past couple of years "employment became a big hurdle because of his depression. He had trouble in a structured setting."

Wagner said that as of last week, Yurish seemed to have come to terms with the divorce, but this weekend was the anniversary of his father's death "and he started to slip back into the shell."

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