By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Sex abuser convicted of 25 Measure 11 counts

Turnbow’s five victims, adult women who were pre-teens at the time, displayed visible relief at the outcome in the 2 1/2-year-old case. It’s the verdict they were hoping and praying for.

A jury of two women and 10 men reached its decision about 3 p.m., following more than 10 hours of deliberations spread over two days. The foreman delivered the findings to Collins, who read them aloud count by count.

Turnbow’s privately retained attorney, Amy Margolis of Portland, told the jury in her closing argument Tuesday morning, “I’ll bet you can’t put the pieces of this puzzle together.”

But the jurors did exactly that, at least in their own minds. They rendered 12-0 decisions on five counts, 11-1 decisions on six counts, 10-2 decisions on 14 counts.

The jury’s votes on the three no-verdict counts were 9-3, 8-4 and 6-6. It requires 10 votes to convict.

“This case has been very difficult for the victims and their families, and has taken a long time to come to verdict,” said the prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Kate Petersen.

“The jury was clearly thoughtful and deliberate in reviewing each of the charges against the defendant before reaching its decision.  While we are pleased with the verdict, especially for the victims, nothing will fully heal the harm Mr. Turnbow inflicted on each of them.”

“This was a particularly difficult case,” Collins told the jury.

“I could tell by the look on some of your faces when you came in. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m sure you did the job you were assigned to do.”

Margolis had no comment on the verdict, other than to say it would be appealed.

After the verdict was rendered, Margolis and Petersen sparred over Turnbow’s custody status.

He has been out of jail since October 2010, when he posted 10 percent against bail of $1.6 million. Petersen wanted him taken into custody immediately, but Margolis asked that he be allowed to remain free on bail pending a sentencing hearing set for 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6.

Margolis noted Turnbow, who arrived in court in a wheelchair, is a diabetic who underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 1997. She said he suffers from chronic medical problems the county jail is ill-prepared to deal with. She said he is frail and must take a number of medications on a regular basis.

She downplayed fears he might flee, saying, “He’s not a flight risk. He doesn’t have a passport. He can ensure the court he isn’t going anywhere.”

Petersen noted Turnbow had just been convicted of 25 crimes, each carrying a lengthy prison sentence under Measure 11. At the age of 69, he faces the equivalent of a life sentence, she said, and has access to guns. She said he should not remain free any longer.

Collins ruled in the prosecution’s favor, ordering Turnbow taken into immediate custody on a no-bail hold.

At the opening of the proceedings, Collins admonished spectators, “There are strong emotions on both sides. Just be cool.”

After sheriff’s deputies wheeled Turnbow out, he dismissed the spectators in groups, saying he wanted to avoid any confrontations. A large contingent of law enforcement officers was present — including lead detective Michelle Formway of the McMinnville police, other officers from both the city and county forces, District Attorney Brad Berry and several deputy district attorneys — serving to help ensure calm.

Turnbow faced 25 counts of first-degree sexual abuse, a Class B felony, and three counts of first-degree sexual penetration, a Class A felony.

A former long-haul trucker, he was accused of abusing five girls, in the hot tub and bedroom of his home between 1995 to 2001. Ranging in age from 4 to 10 at the time, they currently are from 19 to 25.

Turnbow was served with the indictment on Sept. 10, 2010. The case was set for trial numerous times, but delayed repeatedly, mostly at the behest of the defense.

One of Turnbow’s accusers, between 4 and 6 at the time, was the first to come forward. During an investigation led by Formway, four other victims were identified.

All five reported being abused in Turnbow’s backyard hot tub. One, who stayed with Turnbow and his wife for a time, also reported being abused by him in their bedroom.

Petersen and Margolis presented their final arguments Tuesday morning, with Petersen leading.

“Mr. Turnbow is not a stupid man,” she said. “He’s intelligent. He’s quite cunning.

“He chose his victims for a reason. He had the opportunity, he did not believe they would say anything and he thought they would not be believed.”

She said, “He was banking on all of that then and he’s banking on it now.

Peterson said, “This was not an accident. This was done for sexual gratification.”

She said the victims had absolutely no reason to invent stories about being abused as little girls, then lie to law enforcement personnel and the court years later.

Margoliis countered by challenging the credibility of the five women. She said their stories lacked consistency, corroboration and credibility.

She urged jurors to ask themselves two questions: “Does the time period make any sense? Could it have happened the way they said it did?”

She termed one victim unreliable and another an “outlier,” saying her story didn’t gibe with the rest. “They were confused about who was where and when these things allegedly were happening,” she said.

Margolis called only one witness — Turnbow himself, who denied everything. She told jurors they should consider his testimony at least as credible as that of his accusers.

“What else could he have done and told you?” Margolis asked. “This story is not true. You have to go against the state, which is saying children do not lie and they would not have made these things up.”

But Petersen told the jury, “What makes sense is that this abuse happened.

“The victims did not talk about this for years because they were embarrassed and confused. Their testimonies were not inconsistent.”

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