Dusty Today – In His Own Words
I have been in prison since 1995 and am currently incarcerated at Green Rock Correctional Center in Chatham, Virginia. In 2012, I was unexpectedly transferred around the state where I was incarcerated at four different prisons during a six month period of time, which may be some kind of record. This created a whole host of hardships upon me, my loved ones, friends and supporters. Nevertheless, I strive on.
I periodically reevaluate myself and those few aspects of my life over which I still have a measure of control. I constantly and consciously strive to improve myself intellectually, physically and spiritually.
I am currently taking a Computer Aided Design/Drafting class in which I have learned quite a bit. In 2012, I wrote a proposal for implementing a recycling and sustainability program here at Green Rock. Since then, some of my suggestions have been implemented. My new job title is “Recycle Man” and I am working closely with the Unit Manager, Mr. Collins, to make the recycling program more efficient. I have created more than a dozen different recycling promotional poster designs on the AutoCAD system. Several of these have been produced and posted in the prison. Incidentally, I earn 35 cents an hour separating recyclable items from trash.
Also, with the help of another prisoner, I created a proposal to implement a dog training program here at Green Rock. So far, we have gained the support of the security staff and others who wish to sponsor the program. It is designed to bring in abandoned dogs for training and is now awaiting final approval by Warden Manis.
I was recently given the opportunity to live in the Honor Pod because of my good behavior. Members of the Honor Pod have fewer restrictions imposed upon them and are given special privileges. For example, we are allowed to move more freely inside the Honor Pod and we are given access to a more private area to meet with our families and friends who come to visit us.
Before I left Pocahontas Correctional Center in early 2012, I volunteered to serve as a referee for the prison volleyball league. Currently, I am a member of the Honor Pod basketball team.
I also provide assistance to a faith-based non-profit institute for rehabilitation. I helped them to establish their organization and I currently serve as an advisor.
Among the books that I have read recently are: The History of Laurel County (Kentucky); Beowulf; Siddhartha; In the Garden of the Beasts; The Hobbit; Tyr: Myth, Culture, Tradition; Lone Survivor; Unbroken; Great Expectations; The Count of Monte Cristo; and The 13th Warrior.
Meanwhile, I continue to study some of the ancient Northern European manuscripts such as: Codex Regius, Codex Wormianus, Sagas and Heimskringla, all of which are written in Old Norse.
I am currently writing what could become a book concerning Western Civilization’s social changes in the 20th and 21st centuries. For example, I have compared their birthrates to other groups such as the Japanese and Amish. I have also highlighted individuals who have contributed to these changes such as Margaret Sanger and Thomas Robert Malthus.
Among other ways that I deal with the daily hardships and frustrations of prison life are listening to classical music and working out 5 days a week. Because of the limited value that I place on it, I watch no TV.
I also meet with the Prison Chaplain, Mr. Harris, at least once a month. We have a very good rapport and we often talk about spiritually, religion, history and other topics. Last year I presented him with a report that I wrote entitled “Religious Diversity in the Virginia Department of Corrections” which generated an engaging discussion between us.
I recently wrote an account of how I learned about Billy Brown’s confession and I’d like to share it with you.
A couple of months after having been unjustly convicted and sentenced for the abduction and murder of Jennifer Evans, I was sent from the Virginia Beach Jail to Southampton Receiving Center to be processed into the Department of Corrections and to trade my name for a state number. Two months later, on May 21, 1997, I was transferred to Buckingham Correctional Center, a maximum security prison, where I was to spend the next 3 years. During this time, I was told that Billy Brown was in Keen Mountain Correctional Center and possibly being held in the protective custody building.
On May 7, 2000, I was transferred to the Southampton Correctional Center (or “Gladiator School” as it was known amongst the inmate population). I managed to stay out of trouble and make it to the seniority/honor building, where I received a few extra privileges relative to the general population. However, shortly thereafter a guard told me to pack all of my personal property and that I would be transferred the following morning.
On May 7, 2002, I was shackled, handcuffed, chained and bussed across the state to Augusta Correctional Center, once again, thrown into a cell and a building full of strangers. Within a few days of arriving, I was walking on the recreation yard when an inmate approached me and asked if my name was Dustin Turner. I was not entirely surprised that someone recognized me, both because my case attracted much media attention but also because news travels very quickly in prison. This inmate, whom I would later learn his name to be David Head, began saying such things as, "Oh, the Lord has great things in store for you, Dustin", and "God is going to change your future, praise the Lord!" He was generally proselytizing to me.
I honestly thought that this guy might be mentally deranged. His animated behavior and his fanatically religious words only added to his peculiarity. Feeling a little uncomfortable, I began to walk away as I told him respectfully that I appreciated his thoughts. “No!” he said, “you don’t understand. My cell partner helped Billy Brown become ‘born again’ at Keen Mountain. He is a changed man, devoted to the Lord and he has confessed. This is an awesome testament to the power of our Lord, Jesus Christ!”
This, of course, stopped me in my tracks. I had been behind bars for seven years at that point, which had seemed like an eternity. My family had gone through immeasurable hardships. I had survived and learned to live in an environment that I never knew existed in America. When David Head surprised me with this revelation, I went through a range of thoughts and emotions. To this day, nearly a dozen years later, I can still recall the gravel under my shoes, the gray clouds and cool breeze as we stood six feet from a chain link fence and razor wire at Augusta prison. I was not very surprised that Billy Brown had confessed to his lawyer, his family and his new-found Christian brothers. The weight of his malicious deeds was enough to break a man stronger than he. Christianity allowed him to completely remove that burden from his shoulders. His spirit is now free. He believes he is heaven-bound and he shall live the remainder of his days on earth with a smile on his face. I live with the fact that my hatred for him has not lessened since his confession. If anything, it has intensified.
When David Head revealed Brown’s confession to me, I wasn’t sure what it would or could mean. I began asking him many questions, but he didn’t have any answers. However, he said he would introduce me to his cell partner Neal Chance, Brown’s religious mentor. Meanwhile, I called my mother to relay to her what I had just heard. With each 20 minute phone call costing around $15.00, we had become very efficient in our conversations. Yet I recall having to call her back a couple of times to discuss what to do. She immediately contacted the Virginia Chamber of Commerce to find a lawyer who was in the vicinity of Keen Mountain Correctional Center. She found a man named Shea Cook who was familiar with the case, and he agreed to go to the prison to interview Billy Brown. I was emphatic that he bring a video camera, but the warden, Jack Lee, wouldn’t allow it. However, he did permit an audio recorder. Billy Brown told the truth, to the best of his memory, to Shea Cook that day. If I had not been transferred to Augusta in 2002, who knows when we might have found out about Brown’s Christian conversion and confession. I later discovered that certain people close to him, including some of his so-called Christian brothers, tried to convince him not to come forward with the truth. To this day, I don’t believe he cares about my fate, as he expressed at the evidentiary hearing in 2008. Earthly justice means nothing to him. For he believes he is right with God, heaven-bound, and nothing else matters to him.
It was obvious to everyone present at that evidentiary hearing that Billy Brown believes himself to be a man of God and that he is fully responsible for Jennifer’s death. After hearing his testimony, in addition to that of David Head and myself, and after reviewing the entire case for a month, Judge Frederick B. Lowe was also convinced that Brown’s confession was and is truthful. From the very same court where I was convicted, Judge Lowe declared that Billy Brown is credible in his assertion that he acted alone in killing Jennifer Evans and that I had “no role in the murder or any restraint of the victim”. Still, I languish in prison; my hope now is that the truth will prevail, that there will be justice, and that Governor McDonnell will grant me a pardon before he leaves office.
Well, that’s all for now. I appreciate your taking the time to get to know me and learn about my interests and recent activities at Green Rock. This page is updated periodically, so please check back in the near future to see what I’ve been doing.
VIRGINIA: CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF VIRGINIA BEACH
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
DUSTIN ALLEN TURNER,
Hon. Frederick B. Lowe, judge
Virginia Beach, Virginia
June 25, 2008
One of the things that we have to do in making this determination is to consider the testimony of those on the witness stand in light of all of the other evidence in the case. And I've done that here both in reviewing the transcript of our earlier hearing and also in reviewing in great detail the evidence that was presented in the prior trials of Mr. Brown and Mr. Turner. This court has come to the conclusion that aside from the testimony of Mr. Brown and Mr. Turner, that the evidence in both of those previous trials was largely, if not completely, circumstantial. Other than their testimony there were no other witnesses to the actual incident. There was no scientific or forensic evidence of any type that would or could have been of assistance to the trier of fact in either of those trials.
Having considered all of that and having considered the questions posed to this court by the Court of Appeals, this court makes the following determination. This court determines that Mr. Brown's recanted testimony is credible in his assertion that he testified falsely at his own trial. This court determines that Mr. Brown testified falsely at his own trial as to a material fact in the case. This court further finds that Mr. Brown's recantation of his earlier testimony was unknown and was unavailable to the petitioner in this proceeding, Mr. Turner, at the time of his conviction and at the time his conviction became final. And this court finally finds that Mr. Brown is credible in his assertion that he acted independently in murdering the victim and that Mr. Turner had no role in the murder or in the restraining of the victim.