Murder Charges Against Parents in 1989 Cold Case Dropped by Judge in South Carolina

A judge in South Carolina threw out the case against a father and stepmother who were accused of killing their 5-year-old son many years ago. The judge said this was because of several reasons related to the length of time that had passed since the boy’s death.

Victor and Megan Turner were officially cleared of murder charges on Friday by Judge Roger M. Young Sr. for the death of young Justin Turner in 1989.

The case was thrown out “with prejudice,” which means that the Turners will not be charged with the same crime again.

According to court papers obtained by Charleston NBC and CW affiliate WCBD, Young believed that the parents’ constitutional right to a fair trial had been violated by the 35-year delay in bringing charges against them and the lack of new proof by the police.

“The court also finds that the prejudice to the defendants far outweighs any reason for the delay,” Young wrote in the decision. “In this case, the State of South Carolina has failed to set out those reasons.”

Notably, the court apparently didn’t find anything wrong with how the police and prosecutors handled the case. Instead, they focused on how unusual the circumstances of Justin Turner’s death were.

Sheriff Lewis also thanked the solicitor’s office and said that even though it wasn’t the result they were hoping for, they knew “the technicality” of bringing crimes from decades ago to justice.

According to Law&Crime, Justin left his house around 11 a.m. on March 3, 1989, and was on his way to a friend’s house to catch the school bus when he disappeared. Megan Turner, whose real name at the time was Pamela Turner, told the police that she didn’t feel well that day, so she stayed home and didn’t take her stepson to the bus like she usually did.

The sheriff’s office said in a recent news release, “That afternoon, when Pamela Turner went to meet the school bus, she found that Justin was not on it and had not been at school that day.” “Justin wasn’t able to meet his neighbor that morning because she had gone outside with her grandson to wait for the bus.”

It turned out that Justin didn’t make it to the bus stop that morning and wasn’t at school either.

Fourteen police agencies and civilian volunteers searched the area for two days before Victor Turner found the boy’s body “in a cabinet located in a camper in the yard of the residence.” After the fact, an investigation showed that Justin had been killed and that he had died from ligature strangulation. The police also said that he had been sexually attacked with a cylinder-shaped object.

The Turners were both charged with “deliberate actions and obvious behavior” that showed they “knew exactly” where Justin’s body had been hidden. Documents also showed how Victor Turner behaved when he found his son’s body.

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Victor Turner is also said to have said things that made him more likely to be guilty before the body was found. For example, he is said to have asked police what would happen if a family member had “harmed the victim, such as killed him.”

It was about nine months after the body was found before Justin’s stepmother was charged with murder by a grand jury. But later, authorities dropped those charges because there wasn’t enough proof.

The sheriff’s office said that the Cold Case Unit got back to work on the case in 2021, using new technology that wasn’t around when Justin was killed to look at the evidence again.

“We have a lot of evidence from the crime scene. He said this at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon: “We got here thanks to new technology and forensic medicine.” “Everyone here knows how things have changed over the years, and we kept working hard to get what we needed to make an arrest.”

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