NHL Referee Murder: Former Top Prospect Convicted Of Murdering Official In Slovakia

A former top NHL prospect has been convicted of murdering a referee in his home country of Slovakia.

Ladislav Scurko, a 2004 draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers, was convicted of murdering the referee who had moved into his home and had lied about having cancer. When Scurko found out that Marek Liptaj did not actually have cancer he tried to get the referee to move out, but an argument broke out during a drive and Scurko stabbed the referee 14 times with a kitchen knife, Yahoo Sports reported.

Liptaj’s partially decomposed corpse was discovered in a shallow grave in a Slovakian forest, CSNPhilly.com first reported in 2009. Liptaj’s killing took place in 2007 but his body was not found until a year later.

Scurko tried to retract his statement in July, claiming he had been tricked by police. While he was awaiting trial for the referee murder, the NHL prospect was playing with HK Slovan Gelnica and later HK Trebisov in Slovakia.

After being drafted Scurko spent three years in the Western Hockey League with the Tri-City Americans and Seattle Thunderbirds before leaving in 2007 to play professional hockey in Slovakia.

Yahoo’s hockey blog, Puck Daddy, provided a translation of a Slovakian account of the referee’s murder, which said that Scurko was not deemed fully competent, which factored into his sentencing.

“The conclusions of the psychiatric examinations [are that] Scurko acted in a state of diminished sanity. The court considered a mitigating factor and therefore imposed a sentence at the lower rate.”

The former NHL prospect will serve eight years in prison for the referee murder, the minimum for his conviction.