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Hearing could allow new evidence in Turner murder case

By Bethany Nolan 331-4373 | bnolan@heraldt.com
May 27, 2008

A hearing set Wednesday in a Virginia court could allow new evidence to be introduced in the case of a Bloomington man serving an 82-year sentence there.

Dustin Turner, a 1993 Bloomington High School South graduate, and fellow Navy SEAL trainee Billy Joe Brown were found guilty in separate trials in 1996 of murdering Jennifer Evans, a pre-med student vacationing in Virginia Beach.

Turner had testified that Brown killed Evans, but that he helped dump her body in a Newport News park 30 miles from the Virginia Beach nightclub where she was last seen alive. He'd said he and Evans were talking in his car in the club parking lot when a drunken Brown got into the back seat and suddenly killed Evans by snapping her neck. Although Brown blamed Turner during his trial, Brown has since said he himself was solely responsible for the woman's death.

Turner exhausted his appeals and then tried for a pardon, but was denied. Now, his attorney has filed for what's called a “Writ of Actual Innocence,” which allows such claims to be filed based on new evidence.

At Wednesday's hearing, set to begin at 9:30 a.m. before Virginia Beach Circuit Judge Frederick Lowe, Turner's attorney said the court will decide two factual details — whether Brown is credible in his claim that Turner didn't commit the murder and whether that claim can be considered newly discovered evidence under the state's laws.