Stepson testifies in Turner murder trial

The stepson of a Ramona man charged with killing his wife and burying her in the backyard testified he saw Keith Harold Turner’s foot on the neck of his mother in the garage after he had killed her.

Sean Turner, 25, repeated most of the testimony he gave at his stepfather’s preliminary hearing in February.

Keith Turner, 57, is accused of killing Toby Turner, 42, on Sept. 19, 2005. Her skeletal remains were found on Nov. 9, 2007.

Sean Turner initially asserted his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself, and was appointed an attorney to advise him last week. He received a grant of immunity from prosecution offered by the prosecutor and El Cajon Superior Court Judge William McGrath and then testified.

Sean Turner testified he didn’t tell authorities earlier what he saw because he had been prosecuted for misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in the death of a teenage girl in his car and didn’t think deputies would believe him. He said he feared his stepfather and that his drug use also was a factor in him not reporting the crime.

However, when Sean Turner returned to Ramona in November 2007, his biological father urged him to report the crime. After talking to sheriff’s deputies, Sean Turner participated in a recorded “pretext” phone call to Keith Turner. His stepfather admitted over the phone to killing his wife.

Sean Turner told the 10-woman, two-man jury his stepfather asked him to help him bury his mother, but he refused. He said he saw his stepfather bury his mother in the backyard of their home at 16114 Oak Springs Drive. He testified he left town two weeks later.

Turner told his two adult daughters and others that Toby Turner had left. Both he and Sean Turner’s biological father filed a missing person’s report about her disappearance.

Sean Turner testified he heard the sound of dishes breaking from the garage. He peeked inside and said he saw his stepfather’s foot over the neck of his mother, who was apparently dead. When Keith Turner left the garage, he told his stepson “she’s gone,” he said.

Sean Turner used a cane as he came into court. He has diabetes and other ailments.

Keith Turner’s attorney, Tom Warwick, told jurors in his opening statement on Nov. 6 not to believe what Sean Turner says because he has a history of lying.

The trial was in recess on Monday, Nov. 17. Deputy District Attorney Kurt Mechals was expected to put on more witnesses this week and could rest his case on Thursday or Friday.

The defense may start this Friday, but Warwick has not said whether Keith Turner will testify. Warwick has suggested he might ask for an acquittal of murder, but didn’t say in his opening statement whether he will ask for a verdict of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.

Keith Turner told deputies in a videotape that his wife was arguing with him when she accidentally fell. A pathologist testified she was strangled.

Keith Turner remains in the downtown central jail on $2 million bail.

   
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