was convicted of the 1979 execution-style slayings of a physician and a
teacher in an airport hangar. Melvin Turner was sentenced to death for
the shooting deaths of Dr. Joseph Hill, 35, of Harbor City, and Joella
Champion, 44, of Torrance.
Prosecutors said Turner shot both victims in the head
with a .38-caliber handgun as they lay bound and gagged on the floor of
a hangar at the Torrance Municipal Airport, where Champion was showing
her airplane to Hill.
Turner and a co-defendant, Teague Hampton Scott, had
stopped at the airport to steal Hill's sports car, prosecutors said.
Scott, 30, of Inglewood is serving a sentence of 52 years to life in
prison for the slayings.
Sentenced: Aug. 20,
1980. Resentenced June 10, 1988, age 30
Crimes: Robbery, murder
Date of crimes: July 11, 1979
Location: Torrance Municipal
Victims: Surgeon George S. Hill Jr.
and schoolteacher Joella Champion
Status: Federal habeas proceedings
pending in U.S. District Court
Turner, a parolee who got a job at
the airport, and Teague Hamilton Scott attacked Hill and Champion after
they exited their car and entered the hangar where Championís
single-engine plane was stored.
Turner and Scott robbed the
victims at gunpoint, bound and gagged them, forced them to sit against
the hangar wall, and shot them point-blank in their heads.
Turner tried to use Hillís credit
card the next day. When he was arrested three weeks later, Championís
gold chain hung from his rear-view mirror.
A judge sentenced Turner to death
in 1980, but the state Supreme Court overturned Turnerís death sentence
in 1986, saying a prosecutor had failed to justify the removal of
minorities from the jury.
Turner was retried and again was
sentenced to the death penalty in 1988. Scott was sentenced to
life in prison.
Melvin Turner on Death Row.