Facebook Twitter Instagram

SIGN A PETITION FOR CLEMENCY

Sign either at MoveOn.org OR at Change.org!

The Tragic Story of Dustin Turner

His Whole Life Changed in an Instant

A murder case that left an innocent man, former Navy SEAL Trainee Dustin Turner, sentenced to 82 years in prison…without parole (parole was abolished in Virginia in 1995).

To understand what really happened, we need to go back to June 19, 1995 and Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Dusty was just 20 years old. He and his “swim buddy” Billy Brown, who was 23, were about to complete SEAL Tactical Training at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. They were celebrating at the Bayou nightclub in Virginia Beach. It was around 1:45 a.m.  Monday morning and Dusty and Jennifer Evans had been enjoying each other’s company for several hours. They walked out to his car to wait for her friends to return from a coffee shop down the road.

Billy Brown had been drinking heavily all night and was very drunk when he staggered out to Dusty’s car. He got into the back seat on the passenger side and  began insulting Jennifer with obscene comments and pulling her hair. When she slapped his hand away, he suddenly lunged forward in a drunken rage, whipped his arms around her neck in a deadly maneuver that killed her instantly. Dusty instinctively began prying and clawing at Brown's arms, which were locked around Jennifer's neck yelling "Let her go, just let her go!"

Team Up for Turner!

By the summer of 2020, Dustin will have been unjustly imprisoned for 25 years. He was 20 years old when he was thrown in jail for the crimes committed by another man. Because of the totality of evidence that has come to light, there are very few people who still believe that Dustin committed the crimes that he was convicted of: the murder and abduction of Jennifer Evans. The man who killed Jennifer confessed years ago and his confession was ruled to be credible by the same court that found Dustin guilty to begin with.

Mary Kelly Tate, Director of The Institute for Actual Innocence of the University of Richmond School of Law, has rejoined Dustin's lawyer, David Hargett, to help show Virginia Governor Ralph Northam that Dustin is innocent of these charges and deserves clemency. Students from the University of Richmond School of Law will likewise be involved. Governor Northam's four year term will conclude in January of 2022, and it is expected that he will make a decision on Dustin's petition for clemency prior to leaving the office. Dustin's petition has been pending longer than any other petition known in the history of Virginia.

After the recent election, both the House and the Senate of Virginia are now controlled by the Democratic party. There is great opportunity for substantial judicial reform legislation to be passed in 2020. It is too early to tell how any potential legislation could have an impact upon Dustin's wrongful imprisonment. In January, there are numerous comprehensive judicial reform bills that will be introduced. Included in these bills will be one designed to bring parole back to Virginia and another to correct a five year period of unfair sentencing.

Parole was abolished in 1995, the same year that Dustin was arrested and charged with crimes he didn't commit. Between 1995 and 2000, jurrors in Virginia were NOT ALLOWED to be informed that parole had been abolished. This period is known as the "Fishback gap" and less than 300 people are still incarcerated who fell within this gap; Dustin being one of them.

Although Dustin received a longer sentence than the actual perpetrator (they had two different trials and jury panels), Dustin and his lawyers have never argued the sentence. The conviction was wrong and unjust and we are praying that Governor Ralph Northam takes a very serious look at Dustin's petition and grant him the clemency that he so desperately deserves.

Meanwhile, Dustin continues to keep a positive attitude and tries to be productive every day. He was honored to give the commencement speech to the graduating class at Greensville Correctional Center in October. These were men who achieved the GED and who graduated from a vocational class. His speech focussed on what it means to be personally accountable and the freedom to choose one's own attitude, regardless of circumstances.

As an advanced horticultural student, Dustin has not only learned so much, but he has been helping the instructor teach the students, as well as with many hands-on projects in and around the greenhouse. He has also been finalizing the development of the offender rehabilitation program, Mending Fences, which he and his co-developer have worked on for years now. He is expecting it to be reviewed by restorative justice practitioners and perhaps even implemented in 2020.


SUPPORT LETTERS NEEDED FOR PARDON

We just received word (August 30, 2019) that the ordered investigation into Dusty's request for a pardon has been completed.

The report has been returned to the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Now, the results go to the Governor for his approval. At times, this can be a long process. But NOW is the time to reach out to the Governor's office in support of Dusty's release for a crime that he did not commit. We ask that you please write these people to ask for Dusty's release and show your support.

The Honorable Governor Ralph S. Northam
Office of the Governor
PO Box 1475
Richmond, Virginia 23219

Kelly Thomasson
Secretary of the Commonwealth
Patrick Henry Building
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219

Please mail these letters to Dusty's counsel, David Hargett at:

Hargett Law
11545 Nuckols Road, Suite C
Glen Allen, Virginia 23059

THANK YOU!


SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR DUSTY

Another way you can show your support for Dusty is to contribute to holiday care packages.  A few years ago, the prison institutions started allowing holiday packages for snacks and food.  The program has expanded to a quarterly basis.  I have been purchasing these packages for my son and other inmates as well.  Other expenses include stamps, envelopes, phone bills, music players, and downloaded music and programs for him to work on. I am NOT asking for funds to travel to visit Dusty.  But I am asking for funding for these regularly recurring expenses, such as the care packages and money on his account to call home. You can donate toward these expenses at GoFundMe.


AUDIO / VIDEO

The riveting documentary Target of Opportunity: The U.S. Navy Seals and the Murder of Jennifer Evans is now available on iTunes! Filmmaker J.D. Leete and the producers of the Documentary: "Target of Opportunity" have been trying to get this documentary released for the public, and now they have released the documentary to ITunes. We don't think anybody with an open mind can watch it and not know there has been an injustice. If they don't, the filmmaker would love to go over the facts with you! Get it exclusively from ITunes: http://bit.ly/1BJoi6E

Other Features:

Finally realizing that Jennifer was dead, Dusty was in total shock and disbelief. Brown screamed at him to “Drive! Just f……drive!” Dusty stopped thinking, and in a panic reacted to his intensive SEAL training that screamed to him “always protect your swim buddy” regardless of the cost. His instinct for survival and misplaced loyalty to Brown took over as he started the engine and drove out of the parking lot.

Dusty and Brown drove west from Virginia Beach on I-64 to a park just off the highway. They carried Jennifer’s body to a wooded area and covered it with leaves and twigs. They then returned to the car and drove back to Fort A.P. Hill.

For eight days, Dusty agonized about protecting Brown by remaining silent about what had happened that night. Back in Virginia Beach, Jennifer’s disappearance was causing a media frenzy. Unable to bear the increasing burden he was carrying,  Dusty went to his commanding officer. He told him the truth about what had happened and said that he could protect his swim buddy no longer.

During his trial in 1996, Brown lied in his testimony saying that Dusty alone had murdered Jennifer. Brown was convicted of first degree murder, abduction and attempted rape, and sentenced to 72 years in prison.

Three months later, with an outraged community and media,  Dusty was convicted of first degree murder and abduction, and sentenced to 82 years in prison, 10 more years than Brown received! The foreman of the jury later disclosed that several members believed that Dusty was innocent of murder and abduction.

Since he first told his story to his commanding officer, Dusty has steadfastly maintained his innocence, acknowledging that he was guilty only of being an accessory-after-the-fact. His story has never varied or changed. This offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail. To date, Dusty has served nearly 23 years in prison, over half of his life.

In 2002, Billy Brown confessed to Jennifer Evans’ murder and said that Dusty played no part in it. Dusty then petitioned for a “writ of actual innocence” and his conviction was overturned by a three-judge panel of the Virginia State Court of Appeals. (click here for text). The State Attorney General’s Office quickly appealed this decision and the original Court of Appeals ruling was overturned. In 2011, the Supreme Court of Virginia disagreed with the initial Court of Appeals ruling. The Supreme Court decision was based on a newly created theory which suggested that a jury "could believe" that Dusty abducted Jennifer by "deception." This new theory was invented 14 years after the crime in response to one word in the ruling from the same court that convicted Dusty: "...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."

If you are moved by this story of what has happened to Dustin Turner, we urge you to sign a Petition for Clemency. Sign either at MoveOn.org OR at Change.org!

Thank you for your interest and support of Dusty’s cause. Your efforts will help to free Dusty and bring this good and patriotic young man home.

Click here to read important news stories about Dusty's case.

Click here to read an in-depth description of what happened that night.