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Michael James Hurlbutt
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Birth: Jul. 29, 1968
Death: Mar. 25, 2010

Micheal James Hurlbutt, 41, of Brandon, was tragically taken from his family on March 25, 2010. He was the innocent victim of a senseless, horrific act.

He is survived by his loving parents, Betty White and James Hurlbutt; his step-parents, Pat Rumery and Patricia Hurlbutt; Sisters, Suzanne Walker (Mikey) and Missy Morris (Marty); the love of his life, Carolyn Heiser-Lopez; step-brothers Patrick and Scot Rumery, step-sister, Tracy Pettee; as well as many aunts, uncles, cousins, step-nieces, step-nephew and close friends. He was adored by his nieces Ashley, Kaytie and Kelsey; Nephews Evan, Conner and great-nephew, baby Kayden. They will forever miss their precious "Uncle Michael" who was always ready to play, hang out or just be there for them.

His benevolence, generosity and willingness to help others defines our Michael now and forever. His infectious loving way made him one of a kind.

The beach was a place Michael loved to visit with his family, friends and most of all his beloved pets, Spartan, Rudy, Zaida and Bella…truly his best friends.

The family will receive friends for visitation from 1:00pm – 3:00pm, Wednesday, March 31, 2010 with a Celebration of Life service to follow at 3:00pm.


Jury finds murder defendant guilty after 90 minute of deliberations in Tampa

By John Barry, Times Staff Writer
John Barry
Tampa Bay Times In Print: Friday, April 22, 2011

Leonel Marquetti, 51, is questioned by Assistant State Attorney Scott Harmon in Tampa Thursday. Marquetti took the stand in his own murder trial. Later, the jury took about 90 minutes to find Marquetti guilty in the 2010 death of Michael Hurlbutt, 41.

TAMPA — Murder defendants don't often testify on their own behalf. It's a risk. They can tell their own story to a jury, but they subject themselves to cross examination by prosecutors.

Leonel Marquetti, 51, took that risk Thursday. He took the stand in Hillsborough County Circuit Court to defend himself against a charge of first-degree murder. He was accused of fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend's handyman on March 25, 2010, in Plant City.

The gamble did not pay off.

A jury took about 90 minutes to convict him of first-degree murder in the death of Michael Hurlbutt, 41. Marquetti shot Hurlbutt four times, once as he faced him and three times as his victim lay facedown. Jurors also found Marquetti guilty of aggravated battery with a firearm and false imprisonment.

This was after Assistant State Attorney Scott Harmon hammered away at him.

"This wasn't a blind rage, was it?"

"You shot four times and hit him every single time, didn't you?"

"You wanted him dead, correct?"

"He was at your mercy, wasn't he?"

Marquetti said he could remember very little. Everything happened in a blur.

"I didn't go there to kill Michael," he said.

Finally, Harmon asked Marquetti, "Were you crying when you pumped 9mm rounds into him?"

Marquetti answered, "It was something that shouldn't have happened. But it did."

Prosecutors portrayed Marquetti as a hoarder who hated to throw anything away. They said he couldn't bear losing his girlfriend, a German dog breeder named Siglinde Sperber, who ended their 10-year relationship and asked him to move out of their Plant City home.

Prosecutors said he suspected Hurlbutt was involved with Sperber. She said he was only her repairman and a friend who helped her with her dogs.

A 911 call that Marquetti made after he shot Hurlbutt was replayed for the jury. Marquetti told a dispatcher he got angry after seeing Hurlbutt walk out of his house with his girlfriend.

Hurlbutt's parents and family sat through the trial, as did Marquetti's son, Corey, and the defendant's brother, Al. Corey Marquetti said he grew up in California without his father. But he said he wanted to hear the case first-hand. Both Marquetti's son and brother said they could only apologize for his crimes.

Marquetti faces a life sentence without parole. Circuit Judge Emmett Battles will sentence him on May 27.

John Barry can be reached at (813) 226- 3383 or

[Last modified: Apr 21, 2011 11:35 PM]

Michael Hurlbutt

Michael Hurlbutt, dog lover, dies at hand of a shooter

By Marty Clear, Times Correspondent
Marty Clear
Tampa Bay Times In Print: Friday, April 2, 2010

BRANDON — It had been a long time since life had been so good for Michael Hurlbutt.

He had struggled with drug addiction since he was a teenager, but with the help of family, rehab and a 12-step program, his family said he had been clean for almost four years. He was a plumber by trade, a hard worker when he was healthy, and had recently landed good, steady work after a long dry spell. He and his girlfriend had discussed marriage.

Not long ago, he told his sister that for the first time in his life he could look into the mirror and say, "I love you, Michael Hurlbutt."

For some reason that his family may never understand, on March 25 someone shot Mr. Hurlbutt, ambushed him outside the home of a female friend. He died instantly, his family said. Mr. Hurlbutt was 41.

The media got some of the details of the story wrong, which exacerbated the family's anguish, Mr. Hurlbutt's sister Suzanne Walker said. A television station said that Mr. Hurlbutt and his girlfriend were moving their belongings out of a house they shared when the woman's ex-boyfriend killed him.

The woman, Siglinde Sperber, was actually a platonic friend, Walker said, a dog breeder from whom Mr. Hurlbutt had bought two Great Danes. He would often stop by and help her care for her dogs and puppies. On the day he died, he had gone along with her to take a dog to a veterinarian in Gainesville.

"He liked the dogs more than he liked her," Walker said. "He was always going over there because she didn't take care of the dogs as well as he would have."

Mr. Hurlbutt had a passion for animals, especially dogs. When his breeder's dogs had puppies, he would inundate his teenage nieces with digital photos, often with several shots of the first few minutes of each newborn puppy's life.

Sheriff's deputies have arrested Sperber's ex-boyfriend, Leonel Marquetti, in the shooting.

No one who knew Mr. Hurlbutt thought there was anything but friendship between him and Sperber. The family described Carolyn Heiser-Lopez, his girlfriend of 10 years, as "the love of his life." She had stuck with him through the worst years of his addiction, Walker said, and was enjoying his sobriety and looking to their future together.

He loved dogs so much that the family called veterinary offices and visited local dog parks to tell people of his death. Anyone in the Brandon area who really loved dogs might have known Mr. Hurlbutt. He considered his own dogs, Spartan, Rudy, Zaida and Bella, his best friends.

He also liked children. Even though he never had any children of his own, he was a devoted coach of a county-run youth football team. If he could help it, he never missed any of his nieces' sports events.

Mr. Hurlbutt's funeral was Wednesday. Friends from Narcotics Anonymous planned to come to the funeral and bring him two of the program's chips, which mark milestones of sobriety. One was a four-year chip, which he was looking forward to receiving on March 28, the anniversary of his first drug-free day. The other was an "eternity chip," which signifies that Mr. Hurlbutt will be clean and sober forever.

Besides Walker, Mr. Hurlbutt is survived by his parents, Betty White and James Hurlbutt; his stepparents, Pat Rumery and Patricia Hurlbutt; his sister Missy Morris; stepbrothers Patrick and Scot Rumery, and stepsister Tracy Pettee.

Marty Clear writes life stories about area residents who have recently passed away. He can be reached at

[Last modified: Mar 31, 2010 02:53 PM]
Created by: Abby Normal
Record added: Jun 05, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 91361543
Michael James Hurlbutt
Added by: ROB
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Rest in peace, dear Michael
- Kestryll
 Added: Feb. 4, 2014
Just watched your story on TV... I'm so sad. What a good person you were Michael....It's so unfair.
 Added: Sep. 22, 2013
Rest in Peace Michael.
- mourninglory
 Added: Aug. 26, 2012
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