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William T. TURNER





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: July 3, 1984
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: July 2, 1945
Victims profile: His wife, Shirley Turner, and her roommate, Joyce Brown
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Duval County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on November 1, 1985

DC #099865
DOB: 07/02/45   

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 the one!” 

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. 


Trial Summary:

07/03/84          Defendant arrested.

07/18/84          Defendant indicted on the following:

Count I:           First-Degree-Murder (Shirley Turner)

Count II:          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 Shirley Turner.

11/01/85          The defendant was sentenced as followed:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder (Shirley Turner) – Life

Count II:          First-Degree Murder (Joyce Brown) - Death


Case Information:

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 02/21/89.

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 pending.

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.


William Turner



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