CLOSING ARGUMENTS IN TURNER MURDER TRIAL
SALINE CO.—Closing arguments took all morning and a few hours into the afternoon today, Friday, March 22, with the fate of Ricky Turner II, 35, being handed to the jury for deliberations at 2:23 p.m.
Assistant State’s Attorney Eva Walker lead for the prosecution this morning.
“This is the story of Jessika,” she began. “Jessika’s story is beyond sad. She was born April 5, 2005 and lived for four years, two months and 17 days. There’s no other way to put it: this child suffered torture.”
Walker held up a picture of the toddler in one of her bandanas.
“And here is little Jessika just months before she died,” Walker said. “This is one of the bandanas she wore because she had no hair on top of her head because of that man (pointing at Turner)… because of that wicked man.”
Walker said Jessika’s mother was not perfect either, but: “Brandi James admitted she was addicted to meth and pot. She admitted her addiction caused her to put Ricky Turner in control of her life, ” Walker said. “She may have been neglectful and may even be the worse mother of the year, but she didn’t kill this little girl.”
Walked talked about how Brandi James appeared on the stand, sobbing and broken.
“She testified that Ricky Turner wouldn’t let her take her daughter to the store for sodas that night,” Walker said. “Jessika cried and was upset. She didn’t want to stay home with Ricky, who told Brandi to ‘leave her fuckin ass home!’
“Why was he wanting the child left home so bad?
“Why did a boyfriends of only a few months spend so much time behind a locked bathroom door with little Jessika?”
Why wait to call 911?
She reminded the jurors that Turner wasn’t the one who called 911.
“Why?” she asked. “We know why though, don’t we? He needed to have time to figure out what he was going to do, that’s why.”
Brandi James testified that as soon as she walked into the house and saw her daughter she knew “she was already gone.”
“Brandi saw it immediately and who did Ricky call first?” she asked. “Not 911, he called the little girl’s mother, then according to testimony he called his mother, but he never called 911.”
Walker reminded jurors that Turner never went into Ferrell Hospital where Jessika was rushed by the responding EMTs that night.
“According to testimony, he never even asked how Jessika was doing,” Walker said. “In fact, he asked one of the EMTs outside how long he thought it was going to be before they could leave.”
Brandi James also testified about a time when Jessika told her that Turner had forced her to “eat her own feces after she had pooped in her pants.”
“It’s not like I didn’t do it,” Walker reminded the jurors of what Turned was recorded saying in a phone conversation to his sister. “It’s that it wasn’t a crime…”
There was also testimony from a woman who worked at Dollar Tree, who said she saw Turner come into the store, gently pick up his young son and place him in the cart, straighten his little legs and then grab Jessika with one hand and “plop” her into the basket of the cart.
“And then she testified he leaned down and told little Jessika to shut the hell up,” Walker said, “She also testified that it looked like Jessika had choke marks on her neck and a redness to one side of her face as if she had been slapped.”
She reminded the jury that, according to Turner’s version, little Jessika went from just fine and then within 3-10 minutes, depending on which witness you wanted to believe, unconscious and near death and the only person that was with her was Ricky Turner.
“Stories about scary monsters”
“We have heard a lot of scary stories,” Scroggins said on behalf of the defense. “A lot of stories about a scary monster, but mostly what we have here is a story about a sad little girl who never really had a chance in life.”
Scroggins said the prosecution’s case was full of guesswork and theories by a group of medical professionals who couldn’t agree on much of anything except that Jessika was a very sick little girl.
He pointed out that several of the witnesses against Turner had reason to fabricate their stories.
“One man, facing six felony charges, was given probation and is already out on the street,” Scroggins said. “The other is still behind bars but working a deal and no doubt will talk about how he testified in a murder trial for the prosecution.”
Scroggins told the jury that Ricky Turner’s version of what happened that night and his actions following were completely reasonable given the circumstances.
He addressed the fact that 911 wasn’t called until Brandi arrived back at the house.
“Ok, maybe he should have been the one to call 911,” Scroggins said. “And yes he was calm but someone had to talk to 911, Brandi was hysterical. And yes he was calm because of the specialized training he had received on how to take care of his special needs son who, when he came home from the hospital, could have stopped breathing or his heart could have stopped at any time.”
Scroggins recounted a story Turner told on the stand where the night Jessika was injured she and his son fell asleep on his lap, one on each side.
“Children don’t fall asleep on the laps of monsters,” Scroggins said.
He agreed there may have been neglect and if neglect was a sign of abuse then the jury has evidence of abuse, not necessarily evidence of murder.
“But the fact is sometimes we just don’t know,” Scroggins said. “Nobody in this room is happy about the death of this little girl. What we have here is a very tragic story about a little girl whose life was cut short.”
Who has the most to lose?
State’s attorney Mike Henshaw finished up for the prosecution and reminded the jury of world-renowned pathologist and expert in child head trauma Dr. Mary Case’s testimony that with an injury so severe there would have been instant unconsciousness.
“But little Jessika was fine when Brandi went to the store for soda, but not when she got back,” Hanshaw said. “There was no unconsciousness before Brandi left and therefore the injury could only have happened while Brandi was gone and Ricky was the only one alone with the child.”
And Henshaw finished up with one of his favorite questions for jurors.
“In weighing the credibility of witness testimony you have heard, you have to look at who has the most to lose when you go back there to deliberate,” Henshaw said. “I submit to you Ricky had the most to lose.”
Jurors are expected to return a verdict later tonight.
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