New trial begins for man convicted of murdering Army clerk

May 04, 1994|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Sun Staff Writer

A Harford County man convicted almost three years ago on charges of murder, kidnapping and attempted rape in the 1990 death of a 21-year-old Army clerk is back in Baltimore County court for a new trial.

Daniel E. Turner, 35, of Aberdeen was sentenced to life in prison with out parole in June 1991 by Circuit Judge Alfred L. Brennan Sr. after a jury found him guilty in the death of Bonnie Sue Joseph. She had disappeared during an early-morning trip to a convenience store for snacks and other items for her Aberdeen Proving Ground co-workers.

The trial was moved to Baltimore County from Harford. The retrial, which began Monday before Judge Brennan, is expected to last about two weeks.

Mr. Turner won a new trial on appeal because of a comment by the judge, who had said in overruling an objection during closing arguments that the victim's blood was on the knife. During the trial, the testimony had been only that the blood was consistent with the victim's, said Harford County State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly and defense attorney Robert N. Winkler.

Specialist Joseph, a clerk-typist in the 532nd Military Police Company, was on duty March 11, 1990, when she volunteered to make the 2 a.m. trip into Aberdeen, Mr. Cassilly told the jury of eight women and four men in his opening statement.

Clerks at the local 7-Eleven store remembered her name -- and the money she had stuffed into the various pockets of her uniform to keep the orders straight, he said. They also knew Mr. Turner, who was outside the store at the time.

A receipt showed her last purchase at 2:24 a.m., the state's attorney said. When she failed to return to the post, the military police searched for her.

At 6 a.m., Mr. Cassilly said, a woman called the Harford County sheriff and said that she had heard a woman screaming, then had seen a man walking away from a body.

A police hunt began, he said, "and by about 9:30, this defendant was run to the ground."

Mr. Turner's clothes were soaked with blood, his shoe prints matched those from the killing scene and the pursuit, and a knife, the victim's car keys and her list of things to buy were recovered along the route, Mr. Cassilly said. The defendant was linked to the crime by blood and semen tests and by glass on his clothing that matched the shattered window of the victim's car.

Mr. Winkler suggested the jury consider whether Mr. Turner might be guilty of second-degree murder -- or less, "depending TC upon what may or may not have occurred."

In the first trial, prosecutors had sought the death penalty. But the prosecution cannot seek death in the retrial, Mr. Cassilly said, because Mr. Turner cannot legally put himself in greater jeopardy by appealing and winning a new trial.

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