Thursday, October 22, 2009

Desmond Turner Convicted On All Counts

Judge Robert Altice just returned after an hour of deliberating in the 9-day trial of Desmond Turner, one of the two men accused of committing the execution-style killing of seven Hispanic family members who lived on Hamilton Avenue on the City's eastside in June, 2006. The Star's Jon Murray twitters that Judge Altice found Turner guilty on all charges. It was the worst mass murder in the history of Indianapolis. The evidence presented to Judge Altice in the case by Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi was purely circumstantial. There was no physical evidence that tied Turner to the scene of the crime. Many of the state's key witnesses who placed Turner at the crime scene gave conflicting statements and had past conflicts with the victims' family. Key bullet evidence presented by the prosecution was not produced until nearly two years after the case began, evidence apparently overlooked by prior forensic ballistic experts. One of the key witnesses who sat outside in an automobile parked in front of the house while the killings occurred never testified at the trial. She told police she saw as few as three men and as many as five flee the house following the slayings. The prosecutors insisted just two men committed the crime, Turner and another man, James Stewart, who now awaits trial for the killings. It read like a pretty weak case to me based upon the reporting of the trial by Jon Murray and Austin Considine, which you can check out here. I hope Judge Altice made the right decision. An appeal is all but certain. Turner said in an interview at the time of his arrest with WISH-TV's Anthony Ponce that Allah would render judgement in his case. I don't know if he considers this a judgment rendered by Allah, but it is certainly one that carries the force of law.

UPDATE: Judge Altice wasted no time in handing down a recommended sentence for Turner. He has ruled that Turner is eligible for a life sentence without parole. A hearing is scheduled for November 20 to determine his final sentencing.


Guy said...

"Circumstantial" evidence can be stronger than eye-witness evidence. e.g. A ballistic expert's testimony that the pistol found on the accused fired the bullet found in the victim's head is circumstantial. It requires an inference.

An eye witness who testifies that he saw the accused shoot the victim is not circumstantial.

If I were a juror I'd put more credence in the circumstantial evidence.

Advance Indiana said...

Guy, And I would give little credibility to circumstantial evidence the police "discovered" two years after the case was opened that had been in their custody the entire time. Sort of like that bullet the FBI agent just found laying on a gurnee at Parkland Hospital that became such a critical piece of evidence in the Kennedy assassination case. Police have been known to plant evidence. People should never lose sight of that fact.

Guy said...

Nothing in the Real World is simple.

But, other things being equal, (they never are) I'd trust forensic evidence above eye witness testimony.

We now have over 100 men freed from prison after DNA evidence proved CONCLUSIVELY that they didn't commit rape.

Advance Indiana said...

That's DNA evidence, Guy. There's no DNA evidence in this case that ties this defendant to the crime. There are no fingerprints that tie this guy to the crime. He supposedly shot the hell out of a tiny house that a police officer described as being sprayed with blood and bone fragments. He supposedly turned the place upside down looking for the goods. The vehicle he supposedly drove has no physical evidence forensic experts can find. There's no blood evidence in the home at which he was staying. There's no weapon. This guy must be a hell of a lot smarter than O.J. Simpson.

Guy said...

I am curious as to why the defense chose a judge vs. a jury of twelve. It seems to me that it'd be easier to find one juror with reasonable doubt?

Advance Indiana said...

Great question, Guy. I don't know why a minority defendant in this county would ever waive his right to a jury trial (unless she's a city councilor). You're almost assured of getting some minority members on the jury. I know he got the death penalty taken off the table, but let's face it, death penalty cases get the closest scrutiny on appeal.