Harford man draws life for murder of Army specialist, 21

June 29, 1991|By Deborah I. Greene | Deborah I. Greene,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

A Harford County man was sentenced yesterday to life in prison without parole for the murder of an Army clerk who was kidnapped in March and stabbed to death in a wooded area near the Aberdeen Proving Ground.

The same Baltimore County Circuit jury that convicted Daniel E. Turner last month in the death of Spec. 4 Bonnie Sue Joseph apparently heeded his pleas to spare his life but decided he should not be allowed ever to leave prison.

Turner, a 33-year-old laborer, hung his head and wept as the jury foreman read the verdict.

He continued to cry as Judge Alfred L. Brennan sentenced him to an additional life term plus 34 years for his convictions on additional counts of attempted rape, theft and weapons charges in the 21-year-old soldier's murder.

Earlier, Turner told the jury that he tried all his life to "do the right thing but always failed."

"If killing me would bring Ms. Joseph back I would gladly change places, but that cannot happen. I want to live," he told them, choking back tears.

After nearly nine hours of deliberation, the jury agreed, finding on its sentencing form that his remorse, alcoholism, psychological disorders and a family background tainted by violence and imprisonment were mitigating factors.

Juror Dorothy Claiborne said it was "easier to convict [Turner] on the murder then it was to reach a verdict" on the sentence.

Turner also is awaiting trial in Harford County on charges that he assaulted a former girlfriend and another man on Christmas Day in 1989.

The murder trial was moved from Harford County because of pre-trial publicity.

During the four-day sentencing hearing, prosecutors contended that Turner was a career criminal who could not be reformed, while defense attorneys tried to persuade the jury to spare his life.

Turner had a personality disorder that left him unable to control his anger, and the anger led him to repeatedly stab Specialist Joseph when she fought off his sexual advances March 12, 1990, argued attorney Luther West.

But Joseph I. Cassilly, the Harford County state's attorney, implored the jury to show no mercy in deciding the punishment for Turner.

He showed the jury a picture of Specialist Joseph's bloodied body lying in the brush. "Where do you suppose there was mercy in 25 stab wounds," he asked.

"Do you think Daniel Turner ever asked this young woman if she wanted to live?"

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