Man who killed parents executed Thursday
A very apologetic Carlton Turner was executed Thursday night for the
slayings of his adoptive parents a decade ago at their suburban Dallas
"I've been sorry for the last 10 years. I wish you could accept my
apology," he said to an uncle who watched impassively through a window. "I
know you can't give your forgiveness. It's OK. I understand. I know I
caused a lot of pain."
Turner said he hoped his family could come to terms with what he did. "I
accept the responsibility. I take this penalty as a man. I am sorry."
7 minutes later, he was pronounced dead at 6:16 p.m. CDT.
The execution was carried out more than an hour after the U.S. Supreme
Court rejected his last 2 appeals. Almost 10 months ago, the Supreme Court
had spared him almost 4 hours after he could have been executed.
Turner was the 2nd Texas inmate executed this year. At least 14 others are
set to die over the next few months, including 2 more this month.
In a long rambling message on an anti-death penalty Web site, Turner noted
he reprieve he received last year wasn't even based on his own case, that
the courts didn't have to stop his punishment and that he had lived
because of faith in God.
"Faith is all I had to stand on and the trust that God would put me where
I needed to be," he wrote.
Turner acknowledged fatally shooting his adoptive parents, then making
things worse by telling the jury at his trial that it didn't matter to him
if they gave him life in prison or death.
The jury chose death.
"I was immature and arrogant," Turner, who turned 29 last week, told The
Associated Press from death row. "I look at life as it is, that these are
the cards I'm dealt with. To tell the truth, I'm not sad at all."
But he said he was sorry for the shootings, which he said were prompted by
anger and hatred.
"I still loved them," he said. "What I did was wrong. There was a time
when I had justification, but that's all wrong."
Turner, who was adopted as an infant, said he shot his father, 43-year-old
Carlton Turner Sr., in self-defense after repeated instances of abuse.
"I felt my mother couldn't live without my father," he said, explaining
why he killed his mother, Tonya, 40.
His lawyers wanted the Supreme Court to delay the execution so he could
get a federally appointed and paid attorney to pursue clemency. They also
argued the Texas lethal injection procedures needed to be more thoroughly
On Wednesday, his lawyers lost an attempt to have his execution date
withdrawn when a state district judge in Dallas refused to grant them more
time to investigate claims his trial may have been unfair because jurors
improperly were selected on the basis of race. Turner is black and his
attorneys alleged the entire jury pool may have been racially selected.
"He was convicted by an all-white jury by what we contend was an
extraordinarily discriminatory jury selection practice in a county that
has a very long well-documented history of race discrimination in jury
selection," said Maurie Levin, a University of Texas law professor
representing Turner. "I'm extremely disappointed the court couldn't see
fit to wait 90 days to permit us the extra time to explore the claim."
Turner had been a disciplinary problem as a juvenile and at age 14
sexually assaulted an 8-year-old boy. His parents were retired from the
Air Force and moved to the Dallas area about a year before the killings.
His father worked in sales. His mother worked at a department store.
Evidence showed after the slayings he bought new clothes and jewelry,
continued living in the family's Irving home, dragged the bodies into the
garage, then threw a party at the house for friends.
Neighbors called police after they hadn't seen the couple in several days
and saw Turner acting strangely and driving his parents' cars, something
his parents prohibited. He was arrested at home on warrants for
outstanding traffic violations. Police were led to the bodies by a foul
smell coming from the garage.
"He had such a callous attitude and it didn't bother him at all," said
Toby Shook, one of the prosecutors at his trial. "The parents did their
best and they wind up dead. He murders them."
Scheduled to die next in Texas is Derrick Sonnier, set for execution July
23 for the 1991 slayings of Melody Flowers, 27, and her 2-year-old son,
Patrick, at their apartment in the Houston suburb of Humble.
Turner becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
Texas, and the 407th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on
December 7, 1982. Turner becomes the 168th condemned inmate to be put to
death since Rick Perry became governor of Texas in 2001.
Turner becomes the 11th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
the USA, and the 1110th overall since the nation resumed executions on
January 17, 1977.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)