Ex-SEAL trainee says friend killed Ga. student

By SONJA BARISIC Posted May 29, 2008

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) An ex-Navy SEAL trainee trying to clear his name in the killing of a Georgia college student said Thursday that his friend killed the woman, and he did nothing to help him.

Dustin Turner, 33, took the stand for a second day in his bid to overturn his conviction in the 1995 slaying. Turner and another trainee, Billy Joe Brown, were convicted in her death and sentenced to decades in prison, but Brown has since said he alone was responsible.

"When he attacked her, it was an absolute surprise to me," Turner said Thursday in Virginia Beach Circuit Court.

The Virginia Court of Appeals granted the hearing under a law allowing inmates to present newly discovered evidence of innocence. After a judge determines whether Brown's confession is credible, the case will go back to the appeals court, which must decide whether it would have changed the outcome of Turner's trial.

If so, Turner would be freed. Prosecutors could appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court.

Brown and Turner were stationed at Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base, training to become elite Navy commandos, when Evans disappeared from a Virginia Beach bar. Nine days later, Turner led police to her decomposed body in a park 30 miles away.

Turner and Brown were convicted of killing her in separate jury trials. But in a sworn statement in 2003, Brown said he was the only one responsible for Evans' death. On Wednesday, he testified that he became a Christian in prison and realized he had to come clean.

"I am here to glorify Jesus Christ by telling the truth," he said. "If it helps Dusty, that's great."

Under cross-examination by prosecutors, Brown acknowledged telling conflicting stories about what happened the night Evans died. He said that he choked Evans but later claimed Turner did it because he was angry that Turner, his close friend, snitched to investigators.

In testimony Wednesday, Brown said he and Turner went drinking at an oceanfront bar when Turner met Evans, a 21-year-old Emory University student from Tucker, Ga. Tired of waiting for another woman to give him a ride home, Brown said he joined Turner and Evans in a car.

Brown said he talked to them and played with Evans' hair.

"One minute I was normal. The next minute I snapped and I started choking her," Brown testified.

Turner previously testified that Evans swatted Brown's hand away and that Brown attacked her as Turner was starting to tell him to get out of the car. Turner said he tried to pry Brown's arms away from the woman's neck, but she went limp.

Prosecutors asked Turner on Thursday if he thought it was unlikely that there were no other witnesses to the killing.

"Unfortunately, I am the only witness to what happened, as well as Billy Brown, who committed the crime," he said.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Va. judge weighs ex-SEAL trainee's confession

By SONJA BARISIC 8 hours ago

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) A Virginia judge will decide in a month whether a confession by an ex-Navy SEAL trainee to killing a Georgia college student by himself is credible.

Dustin Turner took the stand for a second day Thursday in his bid to overturn his conviction. Turner and another trainee, Billy Joe Brown, were sentenced to decades in prison for the 1995 slaying, but Brown has since said he alone was responsible.

Testimony wrapped Thursday afternoon. Circuit Judge Frederick Lowe says he will issue a ruling June 25 on whether Brown's confession is credible.

Then it's up to the Virginia Court of Appeals to decide if Brown's confession would have been enough to change the outcome of Turner's trial.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.