Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Brizzi Passes On Death Penalty In Turner Case To Save Money

Desmond Turner stands accused of slaying seven family members in 2006 on the City's eastside in a case that has come to be known as the Hamilton Avenue murders. Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi announced that he has dropped death penalty charges against Turner in order to save the county money. Turner's attorney agreed to a bench trial rather than a jury trial as a condition to the death penalty charges being dropped, suggesting Brizzi's case against Turner may not be so strong. Turner, a black Muslim, maintains his innocence in the execution of the seven family members. He told WISH-TV in an interview after his arrest that "judgment would be rendered by Allah."

It's hard to imagine a case that justifies the death penalty more than this case. If a prosecutor decides whether to use the death penalty based on costs, then it raises the entire specter of whether the penalty is arbitrarily applied based upon whether a prosecutor deems the costs of the case worth it to taxpayers as opposed to the gravity of the crime. Turner, according to an accomplice, James Stewart, shot three of the children in the home of Emma Valdez while they were laying face down on a mattress. Stewart and Turner were searching the home for a safe containing money and cocaine according to prosecutors when Stewart claimed Valdez' son pulled a gun on him. Stewart claims Turner lost it and began shooting the entire family.


karma09 said...

Brizzi also claims there are issues with the admissible evidence they have to use in the trial. I see this as a non sequitor, as any evidentiary problems will exist for a judge, as opposed to a jury, in finding the facts. Unless Brizzi is publicly implying that the Judge will be easier to convince than a jury of peers, notwithstanding the evidentiary problems they have.

I've seen death penalty defendants plead guilty to LWOP, but I've never seen the death penalty abandoned for a mere jury waiver, leaving Turner free to contest every legality, make the most of whatever the evidence problems are, and still appeal, appeal, appeal if he's ultimately convicted.

I think the public needed to see a 7-time murderer put to death. Brizzi has clearly announced Marion County will never enforce the death penalty while he remains in office.

Advance Indiana said...

I agree karma09, Brizzi's implication is that a judge will be easier to obtain a conviction from than a jury. I suspect Brizzi feared racism would creep into this case and he might have a problem with jury nullification.