Fourth Judicial Circuit, Duval
County, Case #84-6504
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable
John D. Southwood
Attorney, Criminal Trial: Henry
Coxe, III, Esq.
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Clyde
M. Collins, Jr., Esq.
Attorney, Collateral Appeals:
James Lohman, Esq. - Private
Date of Offense: 07/03/84
Date of Sentence: 11/01/85
Circumstances of Offense:
William Turner was convicted and
sentenced to death for the murder of his wife, Shirley Turner, and her
roommate, Joyce Brown.
In the early morning hours of
07/03/84, William Turner broke into the home of his estranged wife,
Shirley Turner, and stabbed her twenty-two times in front of their
daughter Anetra. Joyce Brown, Shirley’s roommate, fled the scene in
search of help.
William Turner tracked her down and cornered Joyce in a
telephone booth where she was attempting to call 911. Despite her
pleas, Turner stabbed her fifty-one times, repeatedly shouting, “You’re
William Turner reportedly
believed that his wife and Joyce Brown were involved in a lesbian
relationship, and he blamed Joyce for stealing his wife and family.
Turner also reportedly believed that his wife was a prostitute.
indicted on the following:
First-Degree-Murder (Shirley Turner)
First-Degree-Murder (Joyce Brown)
08/17/84 The defendant
entered a plea of “not guilty”.
08/16/85 The trial jury found the defendant
guilty of Counts I & II, as charged in the indictment.
08/23/85 Upon advisory sentencing, the jury,
by a 7 to 5 majority, voted for the death penalty for the murder of
Joyce Brown. The jury recommended life imprisonment for the murder of
11/01/85 The defendant was sentenced as
First-Degree Murder (Shirley Turner) – Life
First-Degree Murder (Joyce Brown) - Death
On 12/05/85, William Turner
filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court appealing his
convictions and sentence of death. In that appeal, he argued that he
was involuntarily absent during crucial portions of his trial
proceedings. Specifically, Turner contended that he was entitled to a
new trial because he was absent from the voir dire conference and the
jury charge conference. The Florida Supreme Court relinquished
jurisdiction over the case and remanded to the trial court to determine
whether there was validity to Turner’s claims. During an evidentiary
hearing on the matter, Turner’s counsel asserted the attorney-client
privilege, “[preventing any] disclosure of conversations necessary for a
determination of whether Turner waived his absence through counsel or
acquiesced in counsel’s waiver.” Turner further contended that he was
entitled to a new trial since the record never showed an affirmative
waiver or acquiescence. The Florida Supreme Court pointed out that the
only reason that the record did not contain such information was
because Turner’s counsel “thwarted the requested evidentiary inquiry.”
The Florida Supreme Court noted that the attorney-client privilege is
not absolute and that there are circumstances where the privilege is
outweighed in the interest of “the administration of justice.” As such,
the Florida Supreme Court again remanded the case to the trial court to
determine whether Turner’s presence during voir dire and the jury charge
was properly waived. The trial court found that Turner enjoyed
“meaningful participation” in the jury challenge process and that he was
not deprived of due process. The Florida Supreme Court found, however,
that Turner did not voluntarily waive his right to be present in the
jury room during the challenge because he did not have intelligent
knowledge of such a right. Nonetheless, the high court determined the
error to be harmless because defense counsel had explained the challenge
process to Turner, asked him which jurors he would want challenged, and
then executed Turner’s will in the jury room. In regard to Turner’s
claim that he was also involuntarily absent during the jury charge, the
Florida Supreme Court found that the record showed that Turner knowingly
acquiesced to his counsel’s waiver of his right to be present. In his
Direct Appeal, Turner additionally argued that the trial court erred in
allowing an audiotape of Joyce Brown’s 911-telephone call to be admitted
as evidence. Turner also claimed that the trial court erred in its
application of aggravating circumstances. The Florida Supreme Court
affirmed Turner’s convictions and sentence on 07/07/88.
Turner then filed a Petition for
Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied
On 03/29/90, Governor Bob
Martinez signed a death warrant for Turner. He then filed a Stay of
Execution and a limited Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. The Florida
Supreme Court granted the stay, after which Turner filed an amended
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. In that petition, Turner argued the
consideration of the contemporaneous murder of his wife as a “prior
violent felony” aggravating circumstance. He also claimed ineffective
assistance of counsel. The Habeas Petition was denied on 12/24/92.
Turner next filed a 3.850 Motion
in the State Circuit Court, which was subsequently denied without an
evidentiary hearing. Turner then filed an appeal of that decision in
the Florida Supreme Court. The high court affirmed the denial of
Turner’s 3.850 Motion on 12/24/92.
On 07/19/93, Turner filed a
Federal Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the United States District
Court, Middle District, which was denied on 06/26/02.
On 12/20/02, Turner filed
another 3.850 Motion in the State Circuit Court that is currently
Turner filed a Petition for Writ
of Habeas Corpus in the Florida Supreme Court on 10/24/03. The petition
was denied on 05/04/04.