Child support scofflaw is freed Judge had jailed him to get his full attention

December 17, 1992|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

Saying the only reason he sentenced Carroll's most-delinquent child support scofflaw to three years in state prison this fall was to get his attention, Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. released him from jail yesterday and told him to get a job.

Stanley Howard Turner, 34, owes almost $32,000 in support to his former wife in Westminster and their three children. He has been in jail since his arrest July 6; he was convicted of a single charge of criminal non-support in September.

"When I heard those numbers, they knocked me off my chair," Judge Burns said yesterday during Mr. Turner's sentence modification hearing. "The sole purpose of my sentence on September 24 was to get Mr. Turner's attention."

Since his sentencing, Mr. Turner has been jailed at the Eastern Correctional Institution in Church Hill.

"I can assure you, your honor, that you have Mr. Turner's full, undivided attention now," said defense attorney Daniel M. Pell.

Mr. Turner was released from custody last night and allowed to return to his girlfriend's home in Windsor Township, Pa. Judge Burns placed him on probation for the next two years, ordered him to begin looking for a job and, once he finds one, to consent to a wage attachment.

"I don't want to see Mr. Turner back in here again," the judge said.

At nearly $32,000, Mr. Turner's unpaid, court-ordered child support is the most delinquent of Carroll's 2,500 support cases, authorities said. He is seeking to have the amount of child support he owes reduced, his attorneys said.

The search for Mr. Turner began more than a year ago when he failed to appear for a contempt-of-court hearing. He was originally ordered to pay $105 a week to his former wife in October 1986, but, except for a two-month period last spring, he has failed to make any payments, court records show.

He remained elusive to Carroll sheriff's deputies until July, when they tracked him to Windsor Township. He was living there with his girlfriend and doing carpentry and construction work "under the table," according to Deputy Chuck Paulson, who handles child-support cases for the department.

Mr. Turner was "cooperative" and, since his arrest, told officials here that he just wants "to get this thing over with."

While he pleaded not guilty to the single non-support charge in September, he did agree to allow prosecutors to present enough evidence to prove him guilty.

Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill argued yesterday against releasing Mr. Turner from jail.

"This has been a long case, and we are saying that Mr. Turner deserves every bit of time called for in this sentence," she said to the judge. "He does not deserve to be part of the community yet."

Mr. Turner, in a letter accompanying his request for a lighter sentence, told Judge Burns that he remains committed to his 12-year-old son and 11-year-old and 9-year-old daughters.

"I never neglected my children, and were it not for a lousy relationship with my girlfriend, I most likely would not be as bad off," he wrote. "I realize now that I should have taken control and made the child support payments."

His former wife was in court yesterday and was prepared to testify that she didn't want to see Mr. Turner stay in jail.

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