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Ex-SEAL trainee, claiming innocence in killing, has hearing Wednesday

By Bill Sizemore
The Virginian-Pilot
© May 27, 2008


Twelve years after they were convicted of a notorious Oceanfront murder, two former Navy SEAL trainees will return to a Virginia Beach courtroom Wednesday for a new chapter in the case.

One of the men, Dustin Turner, 33, has long claimed he is innocent in the 1995 slaying of Jennifer Evans, a Georgia college student. He has petitioned for release on the basis of a 2003 admission by his co-defendant, Billy Joe Brown, 36, that Brown was solely responsible for the murder.

Initially, each blamed the other for the crime. Turner admitted helping cover it up and led police to the body. In two highly publicized trials in 1996, Turner was sentenced to 82 years in prison and Brown, 72 years.

Turner is seeking a “writ of actual innocence” under a 2004 law that allows prisoners to present newly discovered nonbiological evidence of innocence. No one has been released under the law so far.

The purpose of Wednesday's hearing in Circuit Court is to test the credibility of Brown's confession.

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