WCAV-WVAW-WAHU | Charlottesville, Virginia | News

Innocence Claim Rejected in Navy SEALS Killing

June 30, 2010

The Virginia Court of Appeals rejected a former Navy SEAL trainee's claim of innocence in the abduction and murder of a Georgia college student Tuesday, ruling that another man's confession failed to prove that Dustin Turner was not also involved.

The 8-1 ruling reversed a decision by a three-judge panel of the same court, which ruled last August that Turner should be exonerated based on Billy Joe Brown's statement that he alone killed Jennifer Evans outside a Virginia Beach nightclub in 1995. Turner's lawyer, David Hargett, said he will appeal Tuesday's decision to the Virginia Supreme Court.

Turner was the first person convicted of murder in Virginia to be granted a "writ of actual innocence" under a 2004 law allowing inmates to present new evidence other than DNA after sentencing. The full appeals court, however, said Turner failed to show that no rational judge or jury would have convicted Turner had the new evidence been presented at trial.

Evans' mother, Delores Evans of Tucker, Ga., said she was pleased with the ruling, which came two days after the 15th anniversary of the day her daughter's body was found in a Newport News park. However, her happiness was tempered by the knowledge that another court battle lies ahead.

"There's just no rest," she said. "God has helped heal my broken heart, but there will always be that empty spot. It keeps getting reopened - the wound does - every time one of these court appeals comes up."

Hargett said he was "surprised and disappointed" by the ruling but that he looked forward to taking the case to the Virginia Supreme Court. He said he expected the court to hear the case in November or January.

Turner, of Bloomington, Ind., is serving an 82-year prison term for the slaying of Jennifer Evans, a 21-year-old Emory University premed student who was vacationing in Virginia Beach. Turner claims that Evans died instantly when Brown, another Navy SEAL trainee from Dayton, Ohio, strangled her as the three sat in Turner's car.

Turner has admitted helping Brown dispose of Evans' body, which Hargett says makes his client guilty of nothing more than being an accessory after the fact - a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

Brown, who is serving 72 years, testified at his trial that Evans was already dead when he got into the car. He now says he lied because he was angry with Turner for cooperating with authorities.

The comments sections of Newsplex.com are designed for thoughtful, intelligent conversation and debate. We want to hear from our viewers, but we only ask that you use your best judgment. E-mail is required, but will not be displayed with comment.

  • Comments cannot be profane or vulgar. We will not post comments that use profanity or cross the lines of good taste.
  • We will not post comments that use hate speech. Slurs, stereotypes and violent talk aren’t welcome on our website.
  • Comments should not attack other readers or people featured in our stories personally. Any accusations should be backed up with facts.
  • Any comment we post will be posted in its entirety. We do not edit any comment that we post.
  • Comments should contribute to the discussion. We will not post comments that don't advance the discussion. Flaming and/or trolling will not be tolerated.
  • Comments should not attack other posters. Let's keep the focus on the content of the story.

    As a host Newsplex.com welcomes a wide spectrum of opinions. However this is a site that we host. We have a responsibility to all our readers to try to keep our comment section fair and decent. For that reason The Newsplex reserves the right to not post or to remove any comment.

    If you have any ideas to improve the conversation or this section let us know. Send an e-mail to webmaster@newsplex.com.


powered by Disqus
The Charlottesville Newsplex 999 2nd Street S.E. Charlottesville, VA 22902 434.242.1919 – Main 434.220.7522 - Newsroom
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 97473694