Jury selection to start in murder case Man accused of killing soldier assigned to proving ground.

April 23, 1991|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Evening Sun Staff

Jury selection in Baltimore County Circuit Court was to begin today in the trial of Daniel Eugene Turner, who is accused of killing a soldier assigned to Aberdeen Proving Ground.

Yesterday, Judge Alfred L. Brennan Sr., who is presiding over the jury trial, denied some unusual defense motions.

Defense attorneys asked Brennan to require prosecutors not to refer to the victim as either a soldier or a victim and to bar military witnesses from wearing their uniforms in court.

After a prosecutor objected that it would be hard to avoid describing the victim as a soldier since she was found dead wearing her Army uniform, Brennan denied the defense motions.

The judge also ruled that FBI-conducted DNA tests on the bloody clothing of the defendant cannot be used as evidence at trial because prosecutors never asked for the tests. The FBI did the tests on its own, said Harford County State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly.

The trial was moved to Baltimore County because of pretrial publicity.

Turner, 32, is accused of abducting Spec. 4 Bonnie Sue Joseph, 21, a clerk in the 523rd Military Police Company at Aberdeen, from a 7-Eleven store on U.S. 40. He then robbed her, attempted to rape her and stabbed her 25 times in the head, chest, abdomen and back, prosecutors allege.

Turner faces the death penalty if convicted.

In other rulings yesterday, Brennan did allow into evidence DNA tests of semen found on the victim.

An analysis of DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, from blood, semen or tissue can determine the identity of the person from whom the samples came. Except for identical twins, each person's molecular structure of DNA, the substance in cells that determines genetic makeup, is believed to be unique.

Brennan also denied a defense request for a special hearing to determine the reliability of DNA testing.

On the motion barring military witnesses from wearing uniforms, defense attorneys argued that the outpouring of acclaim for American soldiers' performance in the Persian Gulf war would not allow their client a fair trial.

"Here we have a time in the history of this country when the military is a lot more respected than they were 20 years ago," said Robert Winkler, one of three defense attorneys representing Turner.

"There's no question," Winkler continued, "that what happened in the Persian Gulf this year has affected the way people feel towards the military."

By letting jurors know that Joseph was a soldier at Aberdeen, Winkler argued, it would prejudice jurors against his client.

"That kind of popular jingoism, or heightened patriotism, is going to affect the outcome of this case," he argued.

"Why can't they do that?" Brennan asked. "I'm not going to tell them they can't wear their uniforms."

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