Bucks County Judge Charissa Liller posed a question to the 22-year-old man standing before her Thursday.
Why did he kill the father who according to family members loved him unconditionally? Did he have any explanation, any reason, for stabbing Gregory Kurman seven times in the neck in their Newtown Township home earlier this year.
Jordan Kurman mumbled something between long pauses before offering a two-word answer.
“I don’t,” he said.
His voice offered not a hint of emotion. It was a dramatic contrast to the muffled sobs and open weeping inside the Doylestown courtroom where Kurman pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and four other related charges in the death of his 49-year-old father.
The murder of Kurman, a father of two, who married his childhood sweetheart, and a beloved dentist, stunned friends, colleagues and patients at his Philadelphia practice where his generous nature never any inkling of the family’s private struggles with their oldest child.
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Authorities previously had not publicly identified a motive for the murder, but on Thursday Kurman’s public defender, Lisa Marie Douple confirmed that her client has been in the mental health system a long time.
Bucks County 911 records show that police responded to the Kurman home in the 10 block of David Drive five times since the family purchased the home in 2017.
Three calls involved a “mental subject” or “psychiatric emergency.” A call in November 2018 was for an “armed subject” and a May 2020 call involved a report of “fraudulent acts.” The records do not identify who the calls involved or the outcomes.
The last 911 call to the home was on April 29, when Newtown Township Police responded to a report of a man in cardiac arrest. When they arrived at the home, they found Jordan Kurman outside the townhouse, according to court documents.
The officers noticed blood on his clothing, and asked Kurman where the person in distress was located, he directed police inside the home, court documents said.
Police heard a woman, later identified as Kurman’s wife, Merridth, screaming for help. They followed a blood trail from the garage to the foyer of the home and into the living room.
There they found Gregory Kurman dead on the floor by the couch. His throat had a large cut. A blood-covered knife was found next to him.
An autopsy subsequently found that in addition to the stab wounds on his neck, Kurman also had 11 cuts on his hands and three on his face, prosecutor Matt Lannetti said.
Merridth Kurman said she was upstairs when she heard screaming and arguing and went to investigate. Downstairs, she saw Jordan standing over his father’s body holding a kitchen knife.
Jordan dropped the knife before telling his mother “this was for 22 years of abuse.” He then told his mother to call 911 and asked her to take care of his dog before walking outside. Police officers went back outside and took Kurman into custody.
At Thursday’s hearing Liller clarified there is no evidence or accusations that Gregory Kurman abused Jordan, telling the defendant, “It’s important for your father’s memory to say that.”
In impact statements read in court, four family members wrote of the private living hell the family endured before Kurman’s death and every day since. It’s a loss that cannot be put into words, they said.
“My entire family will never be the same,” wrote Trudi Goldman, Kurman’s mother and Jordan’s grandmother, before adding that she loves Jordan “with all my heart.”
Steven Kurman, Gregory’s brother, wrote that his brother only wanted everyone to be happy and get along. While his nephew has destroyed his world and his family’s world, he still has the urge to hug him.
“Jordan needs help. Did we all fail him? How did we get here?” .
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Family confirmed in their statements the efforts to get Jordan to accept help as his mental health deteriorated over the last decade, leaving him prone to violent outbursts and unpredictable behavior often directed at his parents.
Merridth Kurman said that she and Gregory had been together since they were 15 years old. She called him her best friend, “one of a kind,” and the “most wonderful man.”
He was a relentless optimist, who would tell people when he died he didn’t want people to remember what he did for them, but how he made them feel, she said.. A man who would do anything for his family.
“We never gave up on Jordan, because we loved him so much. The man he killed was his biggest supporter,” Merridth said. “Words cannot express the pain we feel every day. I will never understand why Jordan killed him.”
Merridth Kurman did not attend the hearing, but her youngest son, Tyler, 19, did.
After reading her statement, he offered his own, his words choked and quivered with sobs as he struggled to read through tears.
His big brother was supposed to protect him, he said. All he ever wanted was for his big brother to be his best friend. “I loved him with all my being,” Tyler said.
But slowly his brother changed to the point where Tyler said he was terrified of him. He had a lock installed on his bedroom door. His brother stopped speaking or even looking at him for a year, he said.
The mental health system failed his brother and his family. He watched helplessly when Jordan beat up his parents when he didn’t get his way. Sometimes, he jumped on his big brother to make him stop hurting his parents.
Through it all, though, he loved Jordan. So did his parents. If his father had one flaw, Tyler said, it was that he was too kind, too understanding.
His brother always said that he’d destroy his family, Tyler said. He has succeeded.
His mother goes to sleep crying and wakes up crying. Sometimes he hears her scream during the night, “Greg don’t leave me,” Tyler said. When he manages to sleep, Tyler has nightmares that his brother is trying to hurt him. He cannot picture a future without his father. He cannot imagine feeling happiness again.
But with all that, Tyler said he still loves his brother — “with all my being” — though he questions how he could love someone that ruined so many lives.
“I don’t even think he knows why he did this. All my dad did was want to help him,” Tyler said before leaving the courtroom. “Jordan is sick. My brother didn’t kill. It was the sickness.”
After Jordan Kurman declined to offer any comment for his actions, Liller asked him if he had any remorse.
“I apologize,” Kurman replied in a monotone voice.
His response did not satisfy Liller.
“You can’t even say the words, ‘I’m sorry?’” the judge said.
Liller made a point of saying that she “reluctantly” agreed to the negotiated plea bargain, which the Kurman family agreed to. It means Kurman would be eligible for parole when he is 52.
The judge also ordered Kurman not contact his brother or mother and that he undergo a mental health evaluation at the state prison and follow any treatment directed.
“I am appalled you have no remorse whatsoever … That is frightening to me,” Liller said. “I hope you listened carefully to what your brother had to say, what your mother had to say … Your selfish behavior that day affected all these people and they still love you.”