Turner gets max for murder

Posted: Sunday, March 12, 2000

Superior Court Judge Harold Brown disregarded advice of counsel Friday afternoon at the first-degree murder sentencing of Everett Turner.

Brown sentenced Turner, 73, to 99 years in prison for the Nov. 17, 1997, murder of Richard Nelson, a Soldotna mechanic.

Both lawyers in the case, Kenai District Attorney Dwayne McConnell and defense attorney Joe Montague, stated the maximum sentence was not necessary.

At the sentencing hearing, McConnell said Turner's offense was not the worst act of homicide possible and probably did not deserve the 99-year maximum.

"I don't think I can tell the court this is the most serious murder in the first degree," McConnell said. "I believe it warrants a sentence more than 50 years."

Montague said Turner's age and history of medical problems should have made the sentence no longer than the minimum of 20 years.

"He has a continuous history of seizures. Mr. Turner would be lucky to live three or four years," Montague said.

McConnell characterized Turner as a ticking time bomb, "dangerous and unreasonable."

"It was a question of who he was going to kill, not if he was going to kill," the D.A. said. "Richard Nelson took the bullet for someone else. (Turner) doesn't need to ever walk outside of a prison in his life again."

Montague said the murder was not premeditated, a factor that should have prevented a harsh sentence.

"It is clear from the evidence that it wasn't a long and planned out situation," he said. "I don't think Mr. Turner has, quite frankly, the capability to sit around and plan this sort of thing. I don't think Mr. Turner is the loaded weapon the state makes him out to be."

Each side brought forth a relative to make a statement about any possible sentence.

Alice Nelson, the victim's sister, addressed the court and Turner with anger and tears.

"I know you intended to kill my brother. All you wanted to do was kill another human being," Nelson said. "There is no one on the Kenai Peninsula that isn't lucky (Turner) didn't kill them instead of my brother. My brother did a real good thing. He took their place."

"I hope you live a very long time. I want you to sit around and be miserable," Nelson said, facing Turner. "You didn't just do it to Rick; you did it to all of us. You have put me through hell."

Turner's granddaughter, Rae Lynne, took the stand and pleaded for consideration of Turner's medical problems.

"My grandfather has many serious medical problems," she said. "All I'm asking is when you sentence him today, please sentence him to somewhere he will get proper medical care."

Turner spoke on his own behalf.

"I'm sorry the incident happened the way it did," he said. "I don't go around looking for someone to shoot."

McConnell and Nelson both brought up Turner's stated confession that he meant to kill Richard Nelson and was disappointed when he thought he had failed.

"I was just proud I did what I did because it kept me alive," Turner explained. "The man was going to kill me."

After listening to the lawyers and witnesses for approximately 45 minutes, Brown recounted events of the cases as he understood them.

"Mr. Turner drove to the (James) Truesdell residence to confront Mr. Nelson. Mr. Turner took with him a .25 caliber pistol," Brown said.

At Truesdell's house, Turner was expecting Nelson to have repaired his car. Brown said when Nelson told Turner the car would not be finished that day, Turner "announced he would put him where he wouldn't finish anything at all."

Turner then pulled out his gun and shot Nelson, aiming for the heart.

"He meant to kill the son of a b---- and would have if (Nelson) hadn't ducked,'" Brown recounted.

Brown said Nelson went into Truesdell's house and attempted to get help. Truesdell called 911 for an ambulance.

"Turner came in the Truesdell house and told Truesdell he was 'going to finish that boy off,'" the judge said.

After threatening Truesdell, Turner left the house to wait for police officers to arrive.

"He said he felt threatened," Brown said of Turner. "(But) this is the man who left his home with a gun. This is a clear case of premeditated, cold-blooded, deliberate murder.

"This homicide was a depraved act, of which there is not a single mitigating circumstance."

Brown cited Turner's previous convictions on nearly 20 different charges since 1971, a violent "run in" with another man a few months before Nelson's murder and the lack of remorsefully statements by Turner.

"His statement today was tepid at best," Brown said.

Stating he could find no reason not to invoke the maximum sentence, Brown announced he was levying a sentence of 99 years, with no possibility of parole. Turner also was sentenced to five years for the assault charge stemming from the threat on Truesdell's life.

The two sentences will run concurrently.

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