State v. Ture, No. C8-00-798.

CourtSupreme Court of Minnesota (US)
Writing for the CourtPAGE, Justice.
Citation632 N.W.2d 621
Docket NumberNo. C8-00-798.
Decision Date16 August 2001
PartiesSTATE of Minnesota, Respondent, v. Joseph D. TURE, Appellant.

632 N.W.2d 621

STATE of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Joseph D. TURE, Appellant

No. C8-00-798.

Supreme Court of Minnesota.

August 16, 2001.


632 N.W.2d 624
Mark D. Nyvold, for appellant

Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Thomas R. Razatz, Assistant Attorney General, Roger S. Van Heel, Stearns County Attorney, for respondent.

Heard, considered, and decided by the court en banc.

OPINION

PAGE, Justice.

Appellant Joseph Ture was convicted in January 2000 of four counts of first-degree murder in violation of Minn.Stat. § 609.185, subd. 1 (1978), for the December 15, 1978, murders of Alice Huling and three of her four children. Ture was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences. In this direct appeal, Ture argues that the district court erred when it denied his motion at trial to suppress three items seized from his car four days after the murders: a metal bar wrapped in what appeared to be a steering wheel cover, a two-inch Corgi Juniors Batmobile toy car, and a ski mask. Ture also claims that the court erred in finding that the police properly retained those items until his trial in this case. In addition, Ture argues that he was denied a fair trial by evidentiary rulings that (1) permitted the state to introduce evidence that the seized toy car was similar to a toy that may have been present at the murder scene and (2) allowed the state to present expert testimony that a bruise on Alice Huling was caused by the metal bar seized from Ture's car. Ture also raises various pro se issues. We affirm.

During the early morning hours of December 15, 1978, Alice Huling and three of her four children were murdered in their house located in rural Stearns County. The surviving child, William Huling, was 11 years old at the time and was the only witness to the murders. At trial, William testified that he was asleep in the upstairs bedroom he shared with his 13-year-old brother, Wayne, when at approximately 4:00 a.m. he was awakened by loud noises coming from the kitchen below. He heard muffled noises and wrestling, and then a gunshot. A short while later, he heard footsteps coming up the stairs and saw a person standing in the doorway to the bedroom. The person appeared to be of medium build, less than six feet tall, and wearing a stocking cap. William could see a silhouette of the person's face, but not well enough to make a positive identification. From his bed, Wayne asked, "Who are you?" The person fired a shotgun at Wayne, killing him instantly. The person then left the boys' room and went to 16-year-old Susie's bedroom where he shot

632 N.W.2d 625
her in the head, and proceeded to 12-year-old Patti's bedroom where he shot her in the head. Both girls died instantly. After shooting both girls, the gunman returned to the boys' room and fired twice at William, missing both times, and then left. After 10 or 15 minutes, William got out of bed and fled to a neighbor's house

On the morning of December 19, four days after the murders, Wright County Deputy Sheriff Gary Miller was dispatched to the restaurant at the Clearwater Travel Plaza in response to a complaint about a customer later identified as Ture. After learning that the car Ture was driving had been reported stolen, Miller arrested Ture for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and placed Ture, handcuffed, in the back of his squad car. Upon entering Ture's car to look for its keys and a newspaper Ture indicated he wanted, Miller discovered a metal bar, approximately 32 inches in length, on the front passenger seat. Miller seized the metal bar, transported Ture to the Wright County Sheriff's Department, and arranged for Ture's car to be towed. Miller and another officer conducted an inventory search of Ture's car, during which the toy car1 and ski mask were discovered. No weapons or ammunition were found.

Several of the items found during the search, including the toy car, the ski mask, and the metal bar discovered earlier, were turned over to Deputy James Kostreba and Detective Ross Baker of the Stearns County Sheriff's Department, who were investigating the Huling murders. Kostreba and Baker interviewed Ture on December 20, 1978. An audiotape of the interview was played to the jury at Ture's trial. During the interview, Ture said that he had been fired from his job a few days before and that he had been living out of his car. Ture stated that the toy car belonged to him and that he had grandchildren. Ture then indicated that the toy car was for his sister's children. Ture was charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and released on January 4, 1979. Although Ture was not charged with the Huling murders at that time, he remained a suspect.

In 1981, Ture was incarcerated with Toby Krominga at the Sherburne County Jail. According to Krominga, Ture confessed to murdering the Hulings and signed a written confession that Krominga had drafted according to Ture's instructions. Although the police obtained a copy of the written confession and questioned Ture on several occasions about the confession and the murders, no charges were brought against Ture. In the summer of 1998, Ture and Randall Ferguson were inmates at Minnesota Correctional Facility-Oak Park Heights. According to Ferguson, Ture confessed to the Huling murders. Ferguson informed the authorities of Ture's statements in August 1998, and in May 1999 Ture was indicted on four counts of first-degree murder in violation of Minn.Stat. § 609.185, subd. 1.

Before trial, Ture moved to suppress, among other things, the metal bar, the toy car, and the ski mask, claiming that the warrantless seizure of those items was not justified by any exception to the warrant requirement. He also claimed that the three items were improperly retained by the police from the time of their seizure until the trial in this case. During the suppression hearing, Ture testified that he found the metal bar and the toy car while working at a junkyard and that he had the ski mask because he worked outdoors at a car lot. The state argued that the metal

632 N.W.2d 626
bar was properly taken during a search incident to arrest, and that the toy car and ski mask were properly taken during an inventory search or, in the alternative, during a search under the automobile exception to the warrant requirement. The district court found that the metal bar was properly seized during the search incident to Ture's arrest and, noting that there was no evidence that the inventory of Ture's car was conducted in bad faith, that the toy car and ski mask were properly seized during the inventory search. The district court also found that the three items were properly retained by the police and admissible at trial. Ture subsequently filed a motion in limine to prevent the state from introducing evidence related to the toy car. This motion was also denied

At trial, the state offered evidence concerning Ture's confessions to Toby Krominga and Randall Ferguson. Krominga testified that, while he and Ture were incarcerated at the Sherburne County Jail in 1981, Ture admitted to committing the Huling murders. According to Krominga, Ture asked him whether someone would be considered crazy for killing a bunch of people. Ture repeated the question a few weeks later and at some point admitted to killing a family of four. Krominga stated that, over time, Ture gave him additional information, and that Ture wanted to dictate a letter for Krominga to write and send to a judge. Krominga testified that he wrote a number of drafts of the letter, to which Ture made corrections until they had a final draft. Krominga testified that he saw Ture sign the letter and that he signed it as a witness.

The four-page letter indicates that it was written by Krominga because Ture's spelling is not very good. The letter explains that Ture was angry because Alice Huling had called him a pervert when he asked her if he could go out with "Pat" Huling, and that he broke into the Hulings' house to rape "Pat" and knock everybody out with his "billy club." The letter states that Ture shot Alice with his shotgun above the knees and hit her a couple of times because she woke up and recognized him, even though he had a ski mask on. The letter states that Ture then went upstairs and shot two girls and one boy. The letter indicates that Ture returned to Alice, told her what he had done, beat her with his fists and his "billy club," and then shot her in the head. The letter ends by stating that "this statement should prove" that he is insane. When questioned by the police, Ture denied making any confession or even discussing the Huling case with Krominga, and stated that, when he signed the alleged confession, it consisted of blank pages that Krominga told him would be used to make complaints about jail food.

Ferguson testified that in 1998, when he and Ture were inmates together at Minnesota's Oak Park Heights correctional facility, Ture admitted to Ferguson that he had "shotgunned" a family to death. According to Ferguson, Ture spoke of the surviving boy's anticipated testimony about a toy car the boy had owned that was found in Ture's car, bragging that the only way the boy could remember the toy car was if "the fear was etched into his memory so badly that he would have to live with it for the rest of his life."

At trial, the state offered the testimony of three pathologists regarding a one-inch by four-inch bruise found beneath Alice Huling's right breast during her autopsy. Dr. James Hansen conducted Alice Huling's autopsy. Dr. Hansen testified that he had compared autopsy photos of the bruise under Alice Huling's right breast with the metal bar found in Ture's car and that, in his opinion, the bar could have caused the bruise. Dr. Michael McGee, the medical examiner for Ramsey and

632 N.W.2d 627
Washington Counties, testified that he had examined Alice's autopsy reports, photographs of the bruise, and the metal bar. Dr. McGee stated that the dimension and appearance of the bar...

To continue reading

Request your trial
136 practice notes
  • State v. Flowers, No. A05-213.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • 28 Junio 2007
    ...state has the burden to prove that, in the absence of a search warrant, there was probable cause to conduct a search. See State v. Ture, 632 N.W.2d 621, 627 (Minn. 2001). Here, it is undisputed that the officers did not have a warrant to search Flowers or the vehicle he was driving. Therefo......
  • State v. Stavish, No. A14–0771.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • 19 Agosto 2015
    ...turn to the question of whether the State established that exigent circumstances justified the warrantless blood draw. See State v. Ture, 632 N.W.2d 621, 627 (Minn.2001) (“The state bears the burden of establishing an exception to the warrant requirement.”). We review the district court's f......
  • State v. Licari, No. C2-01-290.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • 17 Abril 2003
    ...357, 88 S.Ct. 507, 19 L.Ed.2d 576 (1967). The state bears the burden of establishing the applicability of an exception. State v. Ture, 632 N.W.2d 621, 627 The district court held that the search of the storage unit was lawful because of manager Eaves' actual authority to consent. The state ......
  • State v. Craig, No. A10–1938.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • 14 Febrero 2012
    ...Flowers, 734 N.W.2d at 248. The state bears the burden of establishing at least one exception to the warrant requirement. State v. Ture, 632 N.W.2d 621, 627 (Minn.2001). Appellant argues that the district court erred by declining to suppress evidence of the firearm found in the car during t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
136 cases
  • State v. Flowers, No. A05-213.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • 28 Junio 2007
    ...state has the burden to prove that, in the absence of a search warrant, there was probable cause to conduct a search. See State v. Ture, 632 N.W.2d 621, 627 (Minn. 2001). Here, it is undisputed that the officers did not have a warrant to search Flowers or the vehicle he was driving. Therefo......
  • State v. Stavish, No. A14–0771.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • 19 Agosto 2015
    ...turn to the question of whether the State established that exigent circumstances justified the warrantless blood draw. See State v. Ture, 632 N.W.2d 621, 627 (Minn.2001) (“The state bears the burden of establishing an exception to the warrant requirement.”). We review the district court's f......
  • State v. Licari, No. C2-01-290.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • 17 Abril 2003
    ...357, 88 S.Ct. 507, 19 L.Ed.2d 576 (1967). The state bears the burden of establishing the applicability of an exception. State v. Ture, 632 N.W.2d 621, 627 The district court held that the search of the storage unit was lawful because of manager Eaves' actual authority to consent. The state ......
  • State v. Craig, No. A10–1938.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • 14 Febrero 2012
    ...Flowers, 734 N.W.2d at 248. The state bears the burden of establishing at least one exception to the warrant requirement. State v. Ture, 632 N.W.2d 621, 627 (Minn.2001). Appellant argues that the district court erred by declining to suppress evidence of the firearm found in the car during t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT