Turner convicted of sex assault charges|
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
By Jeff Corcino Staff Writer
A jury of nine women and three men found James L. Turner Jr. of LaJose/Mahaffey guilty of statutory sexual assault; indecent assault and corruption of minors, but not guilty on the charge of rape and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a person less than 16 years of age, yesterday at the Clearfield County Courthouse.
The jury took approximately 70 minutes to reach its verdict.
Turner was accused of raping/sexually assaulting his then 15-year old babysitter at his home on Sept. 26-27 2010.
Turner is facing a minimum of six months to 14 months in prison to a maximum of five years in prison on the statutory sexual assault charge, and a minimum of probation to three months to five years in prison each for the indecent assault and corruption of minor charges, according to Clearfield County District Attorney William Shaw Jr., who tried the case on behalf of the commonwealth.
It will be up to the judge to decide, which sentences will run consecutively or concurrently and theoretically Turner could face a maximum of 15 years in prison, but Shaw said it is likely he will receive a sentence of one to five years in prison.
It will be about 90 days before Turner is sentenced because he will be required to undergo a Megan's Law evaluation. Shaw said be believes recent changes in the law will require Turner to have lifetime registration under Megan's Law.
After the verdict was announced, Shaw asked Judge Paul Cherry to have Turner's bail revoked pending sentencing saying he is facing substantial time in state prison with the conviction.
However, Turner's attorney Robbie Taylor of Brookville argued that bail be continued saying Taylor is not a flight risk, has not violated any terms of his bail up to this point and said he has a few things he has to take care of prior to incarceration.
Cherry ruled to keep Turner's bail at $50,000 straight.
When asked by The Progress, Taylor said it is unlikely they will appeal the jury's decision.
"I continue to believe in my client and I believe he is innocent of all charges but we respect the jury's decision," Taylor said.
Shaw said he was satisfied with the jury's decision and said he was very pleased with the police investigation.
Earlier in the day, Turner took the stand in his own defense. During questioning by Taylor he denied that any sexual contact occurred between him in the victim.
"Anyone who knows me knows I would never do anything like that," Turner said.
He said that evening and morning were like most other days except he was feeling ill with the flu. He said the girl came over to help with the kids and to get them on the school bus the next day because his wife was working the night shift but since he was home sick they told her they didn't need her. However, he said the girl started crying saying she didn't want to go home because she was fighting with her mother so they let her stay.
He said he had sexual intercourse with his wife before she got showered, changed and left for work. Yesterday his wife, Mandy Turner, testified the underwear the commonwealth had introduced into evidence as the ones the girl was wearing were actually the same pair she had worn earlier in the day when she and her husband had sex.
She said she had placed them in the hamper and the girl must have gotten them out and put them on.
He said he, the kids and the girl watched TV for a while and said later they all started wrestling around on the stairs and in the living room and said that is where the girl received the bruises.
He said the next morning was a normal morning, he woke up and got the kids on the bus and the girl helped him with the dishes before leaving.
In his closing, Taylor argued that his client was innocent of all the charges.
He attacked both the victim saying she was a liar and was manipulative, and the police saying they conducted a biased investigation against his client, and said it was too slow and argued the DNA evidence was tainted.
"This process was flawed from the very beginning," Taylor said.
Taylor argued the DNA evidence was tainted because the victim wore Mandy Turner's underwear when she went to the hospital to have a sexual assault examination.
On Monday Mandy Turner testified that the day of the incident she had sexual intercourse with her husband and realized later the underwear she was wearing that day was the same underwear the victim was wearing when she went to the hospital.
She said she had put them in the hamper and said the victim must have got them out and put them on the next morning.
Taylor argued the girl got James Turner's DNA on her from his wife's underwear.
Taylor said the slow pace of the police investigation shows that even they don't believe the girl's allegations.
In his closing, Shaw said there is more than enough evidence to convict Turner on all charges. He attacked Taylor's argument saying it is "ridiculous" to conclude that the victim would get someone else's dirty underwear out of the hamper and wear it to frame someone for rape.
"That's a grossly elaborate scheme for an isolated 15-year-old girl," Shaw said.
He also said when DNA tests were done on the underwear only the victim's and James Turner's DNA were found, not Mandy Turner's.
He also said Taylor's argument doesn't explain why during the sexual assault examination the emergency room doctor found semen deep inside the girl around her cervix and when DNA testing was done on these samples only the girl's and James Turner's DNA were found.
Shaw said the defendant's DNA was the "magic bullet" in this case for the evidence is irrefutable.
Shaw said the Turner was an authority figure to the victim and said bruises on the girl show that he raped her.
Shaw said that the girl had nothing to gain by making up an allegation of rape and actually had a lot to lose. And he said it isn't surprising that the girl did not want to tell anyone about what happened. She said Turner's family not only provided her with an income from babysitting but said she didn't have a normal family life of her own and because she was in cyber school she was isolated from other children her age. Shaw said Turner's family provided her with support, companionship and compassion; helped her with her cyber school, treated her like one of the family all of which she lost because of these charges.
"Why would she lie about the people who provided her refuge?" Shaw asked.
And when the girl did tell someone in her family what happened, her grandmother, she didn't believe her and showed no concern for her welfare so it isn't surprising that she didn't want to say anything.
"Can you blame her for going to bed and hoping that all of this would be erased from her mind in the morning?" Shaw said.