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Slain woman's friend testifies in Hurd murder trial

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Anderson's best friend testifies on day three

By: CLARE KENNEDY

Posted: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 10:12 pm

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Anderson's best friend testifies on day three

Hurd

By CLARE KENNEDY

ckennedy@owatonna.com

OWATONNA -- Prosecutors in the Ryan Hurd murder trial spent Tuesday and Wednesday outlining the events of the last day of Kathryn Anderson's life in painstaking detail, through bits and pieces of evidence and testimony.

Anderson's body was discovered in a rural Steele County on Dec. 3, 2009. According to testimony from the medical examiner, the 19-year-old died of blood loss resulting from 109 separate stab wounds. Her boyfriend Hurd, 23, is standing trial for her death.

Other than Hurd, the last person to see her alive was her best friend was Amber Azpiroz-Blas, a pastry chef who lives in Little Canada. Aspiroz-Blas said she, Anderson and Hurd socialized often.

The two women were especially close.

"She was like my little sister," Azpiroz-Blas told the court.

Earlier that week, the couple had spent time at Aspiroz-Blas' home, playing video games with her kids. The group planned to take a trip to the Como Zoo when Hurd's daughter was in town.

Azpiroz-Blas was in class with Anderson on Dec. 2. They were sharing a table where they were both making flowers out of icing in preparation for their final. According to Anderson's friend, Hurd called her repeatedly for an hour-and-a-half, until the phone simply ran out of juice.

It was at Wal-Mart that Azpiroz-Blas spoke to Hurd and found out that he was at United Hospital in St. Paul, throwing up blood. He would not be able to pick up Anderson. The two girls drove to the hospital. Anderson did not want to go in alone, Azpiroz-Blas said.

"She asked me to come with her, but I told her I couldn't because I had kids and other stuff to do," Azpiroz-Blas said.

That was about 5:30 or 6 p.m. Azpiroz-Blas said that she didn't hear from Anderson again until 8, when she called and said she was at home. She told her friend that she and Hurd fought on their way back from the hospital.

"She was upset, but it wasn't drastic," Azpiroz-Blas said. "She said she'd see me the next day at school."

That was the last time Aspiroz-Blas heard from Anderson. According to Michael Anderson, a Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent who subpoenaed Katie Anderson's phone records, all activity on the woman's phone came to a standstill around 11:15. There was no other activity on the phone until 6:57 a.m.

The next day Katie Anderson didn't show up, an absence that would have had a serious impact on her grades. Azpiroz-Blas said that an instructor had confronted Anderson recently about frequent absences. If she missed one more class she would have to take the course over again, Azpiroz-Blas said.

"I was concerned," Azpiroz-Blas said. "Me and Katie would text if one or the other missed school."

Azpiroz-Blas tried to text Anderson but got no response. Her calls went straight to voicemail. It was unusual. Katie had been known to take her phone everywhere, even while mowing the lawn or in the bathroom, her mother testified on Tuesday.

"Normally I'd hear from her soon, within an hour at the most," Azpiroz-Blas said.

As class wore on, her friend got worried. She excused herself and called Hurd. He said he didn't know where Anderson was, Azpiroz-Blas said. He said they fought and he went to a movie shortly after going to the hospital. A video taken by surveillance cameras at the Regal Cinema in Eagan confirmed that Hurd had been at the theater from about 6:30 to 9:20. A ticket that had been subpoenaed showed that Hurd saw the film "Ninja Assassins."

Hurd told Azpiroz-Blas that he'd come home at 10:30 p.m. and the two of them immediately began fighting. He told her friend that after the argument reached a pitch, Anderson left with a guy -- he didn't say who -- and that he'd had enough and decided to go home to Tulsa, Okla.

Azpiroz-Blas went to Anderson's apartment, hoping to find her there. The building was guarded by a keypad entry system, but by a fluke two cleaning men let her in. As she approached the door to the apartment, she could hear the television on. She knocked. No one answered. She felt the door handle and found it unlocked. Inside, she found the apartment in disarray, with clothes hangers strewn over the floor.

She called Anderson's cell phone, which again went to voicemail. She told Anderson that Ryan was headed back to Tulsa and she wanted to know if Anderson was OK. Azpiroz-Blas called Hurd, hoping to get more information. He told her that Anderson's car was at a bus station in Minneapolis and that her keys were in the house. Meanwhile, another friend, Valerie Solis, testified that she found Katie's car after a few hours of searching through Minneapolis. Aspiroz-Blas intended to pick her car up.

"I wanted to go get her car because I figured that Katie would show up and I didn't want it to end up in an impound lot," Aspiroz-Blas said.

Hurd told her that Anderson's keys were still at the house, which struck Azpiroz-Blas as odd.

"Katie would have had her keys. If she left on her own she would have taken her keys with her," Aspiroz-Blas said.

The keys were sitting on a bedside table in Katie's studio apartment. Aspiroz-Blas wrote her a note on a napkin, still thinking she would return. It was a note that Anderson would never receive.

Clare Kennedy can be reached at 444-2376.

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