263 So.3d 337 (La. 2018), 2016-KA-1841, State v. Turner

Docket Nº2016-KA-1841
Citation263 So.3d 337, 2016-1841 La. 12/5/18
Opinion JudgeCRICHTON, J.
Party NameSTATE of Louisiana v. Lee TURNER, Jr.
AttorneyCaroline Wallace Tillman; Shanita Louise Farris; Timothy Thomas Yazbeck; Christopher James Sanders Murell; for appellant. Hon. Jeffrey Martin Landry, Attorney General; Cristopher John Martin Casler; Colin Andrew Clark; Allison Miller Rutzen; Hon. Hillar Clement Moore, III, District Attorney; for ...
Judge PanelGUIDRY, J., concurs in part, dissents in part, and assigns reasons. Hughes, J., concurs in part and dissents in part for the reasons assigned by Guidry, J.
Case DateDecember 05, 2018
CourtSupreme Court of Louisiana

Page 337

263 So.3d 337 (La. 2018)

2016-1841 La. 12/5/18

STATE of Louisiana

v.

Lee TURNER, Jr.

No. 2016-KA-1841

Supreme Court of Louisiana

December 5, 2018

Rehearing Denied January 30, 2019

Page 338

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 339

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 340

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 341

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 342

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 343

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 344

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 345

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 346

ON APPEAL FROM THE NINETEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT FOR THE PARISH OF EAST BATON ROUGE

Caroline Wallace Tillman; Shanita Louise Farris; Timothy Thomas Yazbeck; Christopher James Sanders Murell; for appellant.

Hon. Jeffrey Martin Landry, Attorney General; Cristopher John Martin Casler; Colin Andrew Clark; Allison Miller Rutzen; Hon. Hillar Clement Moore, III, District Attorney; for appellee.

OPINION

CRICHTON, J.

[2016-1841 La. 1] This is a direct appeal under La. Const. art. V, § 5(D) by defendant, Lee Turner, Jr., who was indicted by a grand jury for the first degree murders of Edward Gurtner, III and Randy Chaney, committed while engaged in the perpetration of armed robbery. Following the close of evidence, a jury unanimously found defendant guilty of two counts of first degree murder and, at the conclusion of the penalty phase of the trial, unanimously recommended sentences of death. In his appeal, defendant raises 32 assignments of error. Finding merit to defendant’s assignment of error

Page 347

related to his "reverse-Witherspoon "1 challenge, his sentences are hereby vacated. Finding no merit to his remaining challenges, his convictions are affirmed, and this matter is remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On the morning of Sunday, March 27, 2011, Edward "Eddie" Gurtner III and Randy Chaney reported to work at the Carquest auto store on Airline Highway in [2016-1841 La. 2] Baton Rouge. Mr. Gurtner’s oldest son, Joey Gurtner,[2] stopped by the store that same morning to pick up transmission parts for his own vehicle and bring breakfast to his father. Before Joey left, his father instructed him to pull his truck around the back of the store to load boxes. While at the back of the store, Joey noticed a white BMW parked in the back and saw a man walking along the side of the building. Joey asked his father who owned the BMW, and Mr. Gurtner replied that it belonged to the nephew of Leroy Moss, Lee Turner. Joey did not interact or get in close proximity of the man. Joey finished loading boxes into his truck and left.

Mr. Gurtner’s wife, Elizabeth Gurtner, expected him home at 3:30 or 4:00 that afternoon, after the store closed at 3:00 p.m. When her husband did not return home, Mrs. Gurtner began to call both Mr. Gurtner’s cell phone and the Carquest line, but there was no answer. By 4:45 or 5:00 p.m., with still no sign of her husband, Mrs. Gurtner and her youngest son, Jamie, then 13 years old, traveled to Carquest to check on Mr. Gurtner. Upon arriving there, Mrs. Gurtner and Jamie discovered Mr. Gurtner’s body. Mrs. Gurtner frantically called 911, and the dispatcher instructed Mrs. Gurtner to leave the store immediately, which she and Jamie did.

Randy Chaney’s wife, Lola Chaney, spoke with her husband around lunchtime that day, and Mr. Chaney informed her that Braillon Jones, a coworker, had shown up to work a little late, around 10:00 a.m. At some point that afternoon, the Chaneys’ son, Trevor Chaney, informed his mother that he had attempted to call his father at work to ask him a question pertaining to an oil change, but that his father did not answer the phone. Somewhat alarmed, Mrs. Chaney tried to call her husband at around 3:15 p.m., but he did not answer. Mrs. Chaney, becoming more anxious, [2016-1841 La. 3] made several additional calls, all of which also went unanswered. She then instructed her son to return home so that she could take his vehicle to go check on Mr. Chaney. As she waited, sheriff’s deputies arrived at her home and informed her that her husband had been killed at Carquest.

Police arrived at Carquest and initially treated the scene as an active shooter situation. Officers entered and cleared the building and ultimately discovered the bodies of Mr. Chaney and Mr. Gurtner. Police then secured and roped off the scene as additional police units and detectives arrived. Eventually, police discovered that Braillon Jones had been working at Carquest with both victims on the day of the murders, and Detective Nicholas Locicero

Page 348

and Captain Todd Morris went to Jones’s home to interview him in the early morning hours of Monday, March 28, 2011. Jones accompanied the officers to the police station for an interview. Jones informed Detective Locicero that a black male wearing a white shirt, black pants, with a tapered haircut, slim build, with no facial hair, was present inside the Carquest earlier in the morning on the day of the shootings, as well as when Jones left for the day just before 3:00 p.m.

Meanwhile, Lead Detective Sergeant Sonya Harden had arrived at the scene and received information from Joey Gurtner that Turner had been at the store earlier on the morning of the shootings. Sergeant Harden relayed this information to Detective Locicero. Detective Locicero prepared a photographic lineup including the defendant, and returned to Jones’s residence to present him with the lineup. Jones identified defendant as the person he had seen at the Carquest in the morning and again in the afternoon while he was working.

Police learned that Turner was a Carquest employee and was scheduled to report to work later that morning (Monday, March 28, 2011) at 8:00 a.m. at the [2016-1841 La. 4] Carquest location on Government Street. Detective Locicero and Deputy Stephen Cadarette arrived at that location prior to 8:00 a.m. and waited for Turner. When Turner arrived, he pulled up in a white 1990 BMW, parked, and entered the store. The investigators followed him inside, introduced themselves to Turner, and informed him they were investigating a homicide at Carquest. Detective Locicero testified that Turner was fully cooperative and wanted to speak with investigators to clear his name. Turner walked outside with the investigators and, despite seeing a knife in Turner’s pocket, Detective Locicero did not search Turner (though he did ask Turner to remove the knife, and Turner complied), nor did Detective Locicero inform Turner that he was a suspect. After receiving oral consent to search Turner’s vehicle, Detective Locicero presented Turner with a waiver of search warrant form for the vehicle, which Turner read and signed. Nothing of evidentiary value was recovered in the vehicular search.

Detective Locicero transported Turner to the violent crimes unit for further questioning, though he did not place Turner under arrest. Turner rode in the front passenger seat of the detective’s truck, and he was not handcuffed. Turner did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, and had no trouble communicating with Detective Locicero. Turner was placed in an interview room by himself and, some time later, Detectives Harden and Locicero entered the room to begin an interview. The interview would ultimately last approximately 11 hours, from 9:43 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., though Turner was left alone in the interview room between rounds of questioning for roughly six of the 11 hours.[3]

The interview began when Detective Harden initiated the following exchange [2016-1841 La. 5] with Turner: Q: Uh, just as a formality um, before we start the interview, I have to advise you of your rights. It does not mean you’re in trouble or going to jail or anything.

A: Okay.

Q: Okay?

A: Yeah.

Q: All right. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court ...

A: Okay.

Page 349

Q: You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be provided for you. You have the right to have an attorney present while answering questions. If you choose to answer questions now without an attorney, you can stop at any time. Do you understand that?

A: I understand ma’am.

Q: Okay. And you can read and write the English language?

A: Yes ma’am.

Q: You’re good - okay. What I need you to do for me is sign your name there and print for me saying that you understand your rights and I’m not forcing you to talk to me.

Turner then executed a waiver of rights form.4 Turner explained to the detectives that he worked for Carquest primarily at the Plank Road and Government Street locations, but that he was going to begin doing some work at the Airline location. He further explained that he went to the Airline location twice on Sunday, March 27, 2011, to introduce himself to the store manager in anticipation of [2016-1841 La. 6] commencing work there. He told the detectives that he first visited the store on Airline that morning, approximately 30 minutes after the store had opened, and he introduced himself to the store manager and discussed a mutual acquaintance, Turner’s uncle, Leroy Moss. Turner then told detectives that after visiting his girlfriend during the day, he returned to the store just before closing to discuss his schedule and inquire about the possibility of him becoming a permanent (as opposed to rotating) employee at the Airline location.

Turner also told detectives that he spoke with a black male driver working at the store, and that he (Turner) walked around the store to get acquainted with the layout and learn where things were located. He further stated that Mr. Gurtner showed him around the store, and that at one point he helped Mr....

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP
4 practice notes
  • State v. Lewis, 011520 LACA2, 53, 122-KA
    • United States
    • Louisiana Court of Appeals of Louisiana
    • 15 Enero 2020
    ...facts and circumstances, the defendant's will was overborne at the time he confessed. State v. Turner, 2016-1841 (La. 12/5/18), 263 So.3d 337. The test of voluntariness is whether the confession was the product of an essentially free and unconstrained choice by its ......
  • State v. Bartie, 091020 LASC, 2019-KK-01727
    • United States
    • Louisiana Supreme Court of Louisiana
    • 10 Septiembre 2020
    ...court summarized the framework for evaluating the voluntariness of a confession in State v. Turner, 16-1841 (La. 12/5/18), 263 So.3d 337: The analytical framework for evaluating the voluntariness of defendant's confession is well settled. The Supreme Court prev......
  • 280 So.3d 932 (La.App. 2 Cir. 2019), 52,847-KA, State v. Ladell
    • United States
    • Louisiana Court of Appeals of Louisiana
    • 25 Septiembre 2019
    ...articulating intelligent reasons for exercising cause and peremptory challenges. State v. Turner, 16-1841 (La. 12/05/18), 263 So.3d 337. Although the accused is entitled to full and complete voir dire, La. Const. art. I, § 17, the scope of counsel’s examination rests wit......
  • State v. Holliday, 012920 LASC, 2017-KA-01921
    • United States
    • Louisiana Supreme Court of Louisiana
    • 29 Enero 2020
    ...the venire panel solely on the basis of the juror's race). [38] See also State v. Turner, 16-1841, p. 88-9 (La. 12/5/18), 263 So.3d 337, [39] See also State v. Tart, 93-0772, p. 16 (La. 2/9/96), 672 So.2d 116, 124 (citing Lee, supra). [40] Julia Naylor testified at ......
4 cases
  • State v. Lewis, 011520 LACA2, 53, 122-KA
    • United States
    • Louisiana Court of Appeals of Louisiana
    • 15 Enero 2020
    ...facts and circumstances, the defendant's will was overborne at the time he confessed. State v. Turner, 2016-1841 (La. 12/5/18), 263 So.3d 337. The test of voluntariness is whether the confession was the product of an essentially free and unconstrained choice by its ......
  • State v. Bartie, 091020 LASC, 2019-KK-01727
    • United States
    • Louisiana Supreme Court of Louisiana
    • 10 Septiembre 2020
    ...court summarized the framework for evaluating the voluntariness of a confession in State v. Turner, 16-1841 (La. 12/5/18), 263 So.3d 337: The analytical framework for evaluating the voluntariness of defendant's confession is well settled. The Supreme Court prev......
  • 280 So.3d 932 (La.App. 2 Cir. 2019), 52,847-KA, State v. Ladell
    • United States
    • Louisiana Court of Appeals of Louisiana
    • 25 Septiembre 2019
    ...articulating intelligent reasons for exercising cause and peremptory challenges. State v. Turner, 16-1841 (La. 12/05/18), 263 So.3d 337. Although the accused is entitled to full and complete voir dire, La. Const. art. I, § 17, the scope of counsel’s examination rests wit......
  • State v. Holliday, 012920 LASC, 2017-KA-01921
    • United States
    • Louisiana Supreme Court of Louisiana
    • 29 Enero 2020
    ...the venire panel solely on the basis of the juror's race). [38] See also State v. Turner, 16-1841, p. 88-9 (La. 12/5/18), 263 So.3d 337, [39] See also State v. Tart, 93-0772, p. 16 (La. 2/9/96), 672 So.2d 116, 124 (citing Lee, supra). [40] Julia Naylor testified at ......