Part of Daniel Eugene Turner died a long time ago, prosecutor Joseph I. Cassilly told the jury. "The part which made him a human being," he said.
"The question now is when the rest of the defendant will die," Cassilly said in Baltimore County Circuit Court yesterday, at the start of what is to be a week-long sentencing proceeding for Turner.
The 33-year-old Aberdeen man was convicted last month of kidnapping, attempted rape and the first-degree murder of Spec. 4 Bonnie Sue Joseph, 21, an Army clerk at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Cassilly, the Harford County state's attorney, is seeking the death sentence for Turner.
In a short opening statement to the jury that is to decide Turner's sentence, Cassilly said the murder was part of a pattern of violence. "There is no reason to believe . . . that one might expect anything else," said Cassilly, in recounting Turner's earlier troubles with the law and scuffles in prison.
Turner, a one-time circus laborer, served a little more than four years in the state prison system for a 1985 conviction of assaulting an Aberdeen woman. He was released from the Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center in Baltimore in July 1989. The center, known as "Supermax," houses the prison system's most violent and disruptive inmates.
The attack on Joseph, in which she was stabbed about 25 times, occurred March 12, 1990. The victim apparently was kidnapped from a convenience store in Aberdeen. Her body was found in a field off Van Bibber Road in Edgewood.
Turner's trial and sentencing were moved from Harford because of pre-trial publicity.
Turner also is awaiting trial in Harford County Circuit Court on charges that he assaulted a former girlfriend and a male friend of the woman with his fists and cooking pots. The attack occurred on Christmas Day in 1989.
Countering Cassilly's picture of a violent criminal with no hope for reform, defense attorney Robert N. Winkler painted Turner as a "pathetic soul" who never had a chance to do anything but go astray.
"His family background since he was a little boy is just horrible," Winkler said.
Because he was raised without a father figure in an environment full of violence and alcoholism, and because he suffers from a resulting psychological disorder causing him to become enraged, Turner should not be held "100 percent responsible" for Joseph's death, Winkler said.
A psychologist, a social worker, family members and others are expected to testify for the defense in an attempt to persuade the jury not to issue the death sentence.
Winkler asked the jury to sentence Turner to life in prison. Give him a "light at the end of the tunnel," he said.
The jury, which is considering only Turner's sentence for the murder, can decide on a death sentence, a sentence of life without parole, or life. The judge in the case will sentence him on the charges and kidnapping, attempted rape and related counts.