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  1. #1
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    Bruce Aldon Turnidge - Oregon Death Row

    Death penalty sought in Woodbury bombing

    Explosion at a bank killed two police officers in December

    Two men accused of bombing a Woodburn bank and killing two police officers in December could face the death penalty.

    Marion County prosecutors said Friday they will seek the death penalty for Bruce Aldon Turnidge, 58, and his son, Joshua Abraham Turnidge, 32.

    "We are declaring that we are seeking the death penalty in this case," Marion County Deputy District Attorney Courtland Geyer said during a court hearing Friday.

    Geyer said prosecutors considered the evidence and the severity of the crimes the men are accused of when deciding to seek the death penalty.

    Marion County Circuit Judge Thomas Hart said the Turnidges' trial likely will start in September 2010 because scheduling conflicts prevent it from starting earlier in the year.

    The trial is expected to last 12 weeks.

    Joshua Turnidge waved to a crowd of friends and family as he entered Hart's courtroom Friday.

    Bruce Turnidge and Joshua Turnidge are accused of planting a bomb at West Coast Bank in Woodburn on Dec. 12, 2008.

    That evening, the bomb exploded inside the bank and killed Oregon State Police Senior Trooper William Hakim and Woodburn Police Capt. Thomas Tennant.

    Woodburn Police Chief Scott Russell was seriously injured in the blast. He recently returned to work after undergoing several surgeries and months of recovery.

    A bank employee also suffered minor injuries in the blast.

    Joshua Turnidge, of Salem, was arrested two days after the bombing. He was identified in surveillance video that investigators connected to the blast.

    Bruce Turnidge, of Jefferson, was arrested Dec. 16.

    At the father's property, investigators found a large supply of items they alleged could be used for manufacturing explosives, including Tovex, a highly-explosive gel often used as a substitute for dynamite, and plywood spray-painted green, matching the color of the green box that contained the bomb that exploded at the Woodburn bank, according to legal documents.

    Each man is charged with:

    -10 counts of aggravated murder

    -Three counts of attempted aggravated murder

    One count each of:

    -First-degree assault

    -Second-degree assault

    -Manufacture of a destructive device

    -Possession of a destructive device

    -Conspiracy to commit aggravated murder


  2. #2
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    Trial begins in Oregon bombing that killed two police

    A father and son accused of a bank bombing that killed two Oregon police officers are scheduled to begin a weeklong hearing in Salem to lay out details of their aggravated murder trial.

    Bruce Turnidge and his son, Joshua, are both accused of planting a bomb at the West Coast Bank branch in Woodburn in December 2008 that killed a Oregon State Police Senior Trooper William Hakim and Woodburn Capt. Tom Tennant.

    Defense attorneys are expected to enter a series of motions for rulings by a Marion County Circuit Court judge before the trial can be scheduled.

    Prosecutors have said they would seek the death penalty if the two men are found guilty.

    The blast also seriously injured Woodburn Police Chief Scott Russell, who returned to work last year after undergoing several surgeries.


  3. #3
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    Death penalty allowed in bomb case

    SALEM — A judge has ruled that prosecutors can seek the death penalty in the aggravated murder trial of a father and son accused of a December 2008 bank bombing in Woodburn that killed two police officers.

    Marion County Circuit Judge Thomas Hart on Thursday denied a request to declare the death penalty unconstitutional before the trial of Bruce and Joshua Turnidge begins next fall.

    The judge told defense lawyers that he found pretrial testimony by experts arguing against the death penalty to be “unpersuasive” and “unsupported.”

    The trial is scheduled to begin in September.


  4. #4
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    Jury selection to begin this week in rare death-penalty case

    The trial of the men accused in one of the most shocking crimes in recent Marion County history — bombing a Woodburn bank that killed two police officers — is set to begin this week with jury selection.

    Attorneys and staffers are keeping tight-lipped about the trial of Bruce and Joshua Turnidge, the father and son pair accused of bombing West Coast Bank on Dec. 12, 2008. The duo is accused of aggravated murder and manufacturing an explosive device, among several other charges.

    Their trial is expected to last 12 weeks. That's longer than the typical criminal trial, according to Phil Lemman of the Oregon Judicial Department.

    "In general, every aspect of an aggravated murder case is bigger, compared to a 'typical' criminal case," Lemman said. "They involve more time, more cost and more scrutiny because more is at stake —they literally are life-and-death cases."

    In 2004, 30 cases heard in Oregon involved at least one count of aggravated murder, Lemman said. An average of 24 aggravated murder cases were heard each year between 2004 and 2007 in Oregon. More recent data were not available.

    Indictments against Bruce and Joshua Turnidge charge them each with aggravated murder for allegedly killing two people in one criminal episode, allegedly killing two police officers by way of explosion and in the course of committing crimes of robbery and criminal mischief.

    The last aggravated murder trial in Marion County was in 2007, according to Statesman Journal archives.

    In that case, a jury found Bonafacio Merino-Apolinar, 37 at the time, guilty of five counts of aggravated murder for beating 67-year-old Janet Unruh to death at a group care center in northeast Salem in 1991. A jury deliberated for only hours before deciding Merino-Apolinar should spend his life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    The jury had its guilty verdict 13 days after the start of jury selection. Within three additional days the jury determined Merino-Apolinar should face life in prison without a chance of parole.

    Marion County officials have declined to comment on any aspect of the Turnidge case citing a gag order from Marion County Judge Thomas Hart, who is overseeing the trial.

    The order prohibits the parties in the Turnidge case or their employers from making public comments.

    It is a measure taken to avoid the risk of a mistrial, Lemman said, speaking generally of gag orders.

    "The goal is to protect the rights of all the parties and the integrity of the court process," he said. Lemman said gag orders are frequently used in high-profile cases that receive a significant amount of public interest.

    "In aggravated murder cases there is a greater degree of caution in ensuring that errors do not occur ... that statements are not made that could prejudice the proceedings," Lemman said.

    Opening statements in the trial are scheduled for Sept. 29. Proceedings are open to the public and media on a first-come, first-served basis. Media coverage of the trial has been limited to one video camera and one photographer in the courtroom.

    The Dec. 12, 2008, bombing killed Oregon State Police trooper and bomb technician William Hakim and Woodburn Police Capt. Thomas Tennant. Woodburn Police Chief Scott Russell was seriously injured in the blast and bank employee Laurie Perkett also suffered injuries.

    The last person to face prosecution in Marion County for killing a law enforcement officer was Jacob Todoriko in 2001, according to Statesman Journal archives.

    Todoriko pleaded guilty to two charges of criminally negligent homicide and was sentenced to probation. He fell asleep while driving on Interstate 5 south of Salem on Sept. 4, 2001 and crashed into three police officers who were helping a motorist on the roadside. Oregon State Police Senior Trooper Maria Mignano, 39, of Keizer and off-duty Albany Police Officer Jason Hoerauf, 29, were killed.

    Under Oregon statute, only people convicted of aggravated murder can face the death penalty. Prosecutors have said they seek the death penalty for Bruce and Joshua Turnidge if they are convicted.

    Defendants charged with aggravated murder face two phases of trial.

    The first is a guilt phase when a jury determines if the defendant committed the crimes for which they are accused, Willamette University College of Law assistant professor Caroline Davidson said.

    "If they're found guilty, they proceed to the penalty phase to determine what the sentence will be," Davidson said.

    In the penalty phase a jury will determine if certain factors exist to warrant the death penalty as a sentence. It is unclear if the court expects both phases of the Turnidge case to fit in its 12-week schedule.

    The Oregon Supreme Court automatically reviews cases that involve a sentence of death.

    The potential length of the Turnidge trial has prompted extra measures to ensure an adequate jury.

    About 1,600 summons were sent to Marion County residents, Hart has said in court proceedings. About 400 had responded they'd attend selection, Hart said on Aug. 27.

    Twelve jurors and four alternates will be selected from the jury pool.

    "Courts select alternate jurors to reduce the possibility of a mistrial if a regular juror cannot continue participating," Lemman said. "Alternates hear all the evidence and can step in if a regular juror leaves."

    The option of alternate jurors decreases risk of declaring a mistrial or starting over if there are not enough jurors, Lemman said.

    Selection is expected to begin Wednesday when potential jurors will appear in large groups, a process referred to as cattle call.

    People who are not dismissed in the first round of selection will be questioned by the prosecution and defense in groups of six to 12, according to court documents. The jury selection process could take three weeks.

    Hart has previously denied the defense's motion for separate juries for each phase of the trial.

    Other pretrial motions have addressed security concerns in the high-profile case. Hart has ruled that specialty equipment, such as a remote-controlled stun belt worn by a defendant that can deliver a shock similar to a Taser, will not be used.

    Courtroom security will be provided by the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

    As many as eight deputies are expected to provide security, according to a court order.

    The deputies are tasked with transporting defendants to and from Marion County jail and keeping the judge, court staff, jury, attorneys, defendants and the public safe.

    Marion County Sheriff's Office officials declined to comment on the role of security, both generally and in relation to the Turnidge trial, citing Hart's gag order.


  5. #5
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    Team's background is in capital cases

    Attorneys representing Bruce and Joshua Turnidge are no strangers to aggravated murder trials.

    Steven Gorham and Steve Krasik, who represent Joshua Turnidge, and John Storkel and Mark Brownlee, who represent Bruce Turnidge, all have extensive training and experience with capital cases. They were appointed to represent the defendants since the Turnidges' first court appearances in 2008.

    Gorham and Krasik are in a group of 30 Oregon attorneys who work under contract with the Office of Public Defense Services handling capital cases. They've been contracted since July 2008, according to the office's chief counsel Paul Levy.

    Storkel and Brownlee also are funded by the defense services office, though they're specially appointed and not under contract. There are 50 attorneys in Oregon certified to be lead counsel in death penalty trials, Levy said.

    Each attorney has significant experience with defendants who could face the death penalty if convicted.

    Krasik, who is designated lead counsel for Joshua Turnidge, was admitted to the bar in 1980, according to bar records.

    Gorham was admitted to the Oregon bar in 1975.

    The team has previously worked together representing Joel Courtney, who pleaded guilty in 2009 to a charge of aggravated murder and avoided the death penalty by revealing the location of his victim, Brooke Wilberger, who disappeared from Corvallis in 2004.

    Storkel, who is lead counsel for Bruce Turnidge, was admitted to the bar in 1985. Brownlee was admitted in 1988.

    Storkel and Brownlee have previously worked together to defend Jason Brumwell, an Oregon State Penitentiary inmate who, with another inmate, stabbed and beat prisoner David Polin to death in 2003. A jury determined Brumwell, who had previously been convicted of murder, deserved to die for killing Polin. He is on death row.

    Gorham and Krasik earn $90 per hour based on their contract with the Office of Public Defense Services, according to Levy.

    Storkel earns $75 per hour, and Brownlee earns $55 per hour, Levy said.


  6. #6
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    Tim McVeigh was 'hero' to Turnidges, witnesses say

    When the Oklahoma City bombing caused massive deaths in April 1995, Bruce Turnidge and his son, Joshua, reacted to the news with jubilation, Joshua's former girlfriend testified Friday morning.

    Melodie Chasteen, 35, said she witnessed the reactions of the father and son while she was at Bruce Turnidge's home to eat dinner.

    The elder Turnidge pumped his fist in the air when news coverage of the bombing broke, Chasteen said.

    "He cheered, almost like it was a football game," she said.

    Joshua also was pleased, Chasteen said.

    "He definitely agreed with what his dad was excited about," she said.

    A truck bomb planted by Timothy McVeigh exploded outside a federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, killing 168 people, including 19 children.

    Chasteen said Bruce Turnidge told her that the bombing "needed to happen" to "teach the government a lesson."

    She said she broke up with Joshua Turnidge about three months after the Oklahoma City bombing.

    The Turnidges are accused of aggravated murder in connection with planting a bomb outside West Coast Bank in Woodburn on Dec. 12, 2008, as part of a failed robbery attempt.

    The bomb exploded in the bank, killing Oregon State Police Trooper William Hakim and Woodburn Police Capt. Thomas Tennant. It critically injured Woodburn Police Chief Scott Russell and wounded bank employee Laura Perkett.

    Friday's prosecution witnesses included a woman who recounted political rants that Bruce Turnidge made at church while he was living near Orovada, Nev.

    Gail Lambert, now a school district employee in California, said Turnidge disrupted Sunday school classes with his tirades — she called them "uproars."

    Sometimes, Turnidge would pace and yell while proclaiming his anti-government beliefs, Lambert said.

    "He was always on a platform," she said.

    Turnidge told church members that he thought police officers "were a joke," and that it was ridiculous to pay taxes, Lambert said.

    His fiery church commentaries included offensive remarks about the Oklahoma City bombing, Lambert said.

    "Bruce said that Timothy McVeigh was a hero," she said.

    Turnidge also made light of the death toll caused by the bombing, asserting that "in war, there are always casualties," Lambert said.

    Also on Friday, former Salem businessman Richard Faith testified that Bruce Turnidge was among a small group of men who came to him in the 1990s to promote their idea of forming a militia.

    Faith said he didn't share their beliefs and told the group that he wasn't interested in launching or joining a militia.

    Daniel Kerr, chief financial officer for Faith's businesses, testified that Bruce Turnidge and his brother Doug inquired about obtaining a $75,000 loan from Faith. Kerr said the two men wanted the money to buy "military grade weapons."

    The Turnidge brothers did not get that loan, Kerr said.

    However, Bruce Turnidge was the recipient of a $150,000 loan from Faith in the mid-1990s, which funded Turnidge's purchase of a 320-acre onion farm in northern Nevada, near the town of Orovada.

    Faith testified that he granted Turnidge the loan, in large part, because he knew and respected Henry Turnidge, a successful mint farmer who was Bruce's grandfather.

    In addition, Faith said he believed that Bruce Turnidge would make the Nevada farm productive.

    But the onion farm proved to be a bust. Bruce Turnidge and his wife, Janet, became embroiled in debts and legal disputes while they lived on the farm.

    After the Turnidges failed to make payments on the loan, Faith's company initiated foreclosure action on the Orovada farm in 2000. The Salem company subsequently sold the farm and claimed ownership of the Turnidge's mobile home, in exchange for the unpaid balance on the loan.

    Bruce and Janet Turnidge eventually moved back to Oregon.

    Prosecutors have argued that the 2008 bank bombing in Woodburn arose from a scheme concocted by Bruce and Joshua Turnidge to get money from the bank to bolster the Turnidges' failing biodiesel business, which operated in the Salem area. They also have argued that the father and son shared anti-government beliefs and were fearful that the election of President Obama signaled a trend toward the government clamping down on gun rights.

    The trial basics

    Bruce Turnidge of Jefferson and Joshua Turnidge of Salem are accused of making a bomb that was found outside West Coast Bank in Woodburn on Dec. 12, 2008. An explosive device, deemed a hoax, exploded inside the bank — killing OSP Trooper William Hakim and Woodburn Police Capt. Thomas Tennant, critically injuring Woodburn Police Chief Scott Russell and wounding bank employee Laura Perkett.

    What's next

    The trial resumes at 9 a.m. Monday in Marion County Circuit Judge Thomas Hart's courtroom at Marion County Courthouse, 100 High St. NE. The prosecution team will continue presenting its case next week.


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    Woodburn bombing trial: Chief Scott Russell, who was critically injured in the blast, testifies

    Woodburn Police Chief Scott Russell, who was critically injured in the Dec. 12, 2008 bombing of a Woodburn bank, testified this morning in the aggravated murder trials of the men accused of the crime.

    Russell, who walked with a limp as he took the stand, told jurors he could not remember much from the day of the bombing. The police chief said he recalled going to Wells Fargo bank that morning with Capt. Tom Tennant after the bank received a threatening phone call. Police recovered five garbage bags and a prepaid cell phone in the garbage area, but determined there was no bomb

    Afterwards, he had lunch with the Tualatin police chief, then returned to his office for a debriefing with two officers about a class they had recently taken at the police academy.

    But he could not recall the events that followed -- from responding with Tennant to a call from the West Coast Bank about a suspicious device to the late-afternoon explosion that occurred as Oregon State Police bomb technician William Hakim tried to dismantle what he believed to be a hoax device.

    The next thing he recalls, he said in a calm, matter-of-fact tone, was waking up at OHSU Hospital where he learned from his wife and another police captain that he had been severely injured -- his right leg had been amputated -- and Tennant was dead.

    Hakim was also killed in the blast and West Coast Bank employee Laurie Perkett sustained a leg injury.

    Bruce Turnidge and his son, Joshua Turnidge, are charged with planting the bomb as part of a robbery plot. They could face the death penalty if convicted.

    Check back later for a more complete story from today's testimony.


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    Bank Bombing Trial Resumes Next Month

    After a month of testimony, the trial in a fatal Woodburn bank bombing is stopping for a week-and-a-half break.

    Bruce Turnidge and his son, Josh, are accused of planting a bomb that killed Woodburn Police Capt. Tom Tennant and Oregon state police bomb technician Bill Hakim on Dec. 12, 2008.

    The prosecution is about halfway through its presentation in the aggravated murder case against the Turnidges. If convicted, the pair could face the death penalty.

    Prosecutors say Bruce and Josh Turnidge placed the bomb outside the West Coast Bank as part of a plot to extort money from the bank.

    Defense attorneys are expected to begin presenting their case and calling their witnesses next month.

    The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Nov. 8.


  9. #9
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    Janet Turnidge ordered to testify in husband, son's trial

    A Marion County judge has ordered Janet Turnidge to testify in the trial of her husband and son, who are accused of bombing a Woodburn bank and killing two police officers.

    Janet Turnidge appeared in court last week and invoked her right not to testify against her husband, Bruce Turnidge, based on marital privilege.

    Attorneys for Joshua Turnidge, Janet Turnidge's son, had subpoenaed her to testify.

    Circuit Judge Thomas Hart ruled that Joshua Turnidge's right to confront witnesses superceded Janet Turnidge's marital privilege rights.

    Bruce and Joshua Turnidge are accused of building a bomb that exploded Dec. 12, 2008 at a West Coast Bank in Woodburn.

    The blast killed Oregon State Police bomb technician Trooper William Hakim and Woodburn police Capt. Thomas Tennant. Woodburn Chief Scott Russell was critically injured in the blast, and bank employee Laura Perkett also was injured.

    Bruce and Joshua Turnidge each are accused of 10 counts of aggravated murder, as well as additional charges, and prosecutors will seek the death penalty if they are convicted. The Turnidges' criminal trial began Sept. 29.

    Defense teams for the accused previously have sought separate trials for each Bruce and Joshua Turnidge. Defense attorneys argued it would be difficult for a jury to apply statements made by witnesses to the correct defendant.

    The judge declined the motion to sever the trials.

    Last week, defense attorneys brought up similar arguments regarding Janet Turnidge's testimony. Joshua Turnidge's attorney, Steve Krasik, said he would ask Janet Turnidge about non-marital communication with Bruce Turnidge.

    Hart wrote in a opinion letter to the attorneys that statements made to Janet Turnidge by Bruce Turnidge were hearsay and Janet Turnidge should not be asked questions about out-of-court statements without the court's prior review.

    The trial, which is ahead of schedule and on a break this week, resumes Nov. 8 with additional witnesses for the prosecution. The state will likely rest its case Nov. 9 before another break.

    Attorneys for Joshua Turnidge have said they expect to begin their case Nov. 16.


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    Turnidge trial: ATF chemist testifies about bomb components

    The aggravated murder trial of Bruce and Joshua Turnidge resumed this morning after a more than weeklong break.

    Gloria Sakato, a forensic chemist with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, testified that fragments from a bomb that exploded in Woodburn matched pieces of evidence taken during search warrants after the explosion.

    The Turnidges are accused of building a bomb and killing two police officers on Dec. 12, 2008 at a West Coast Bank in Woodburn. Oregon State Police bomb technician Trooper William Hakim thought the bomb was a hoax and moved it inside the bank, where it exploded and killed Hakim and Woodburn Police Capt. Thomas Tennant.

    Prosecutors have said the bomb was likely detonated by a radio frequency, possibly from a passing truck’s CB radio.

    Sakato said she received several loads of evidence, of at least 15 boxes each, that she examined after the blast and compared to photos taken of the device before it exploded.

    Pieces of flat metal bar and expanded metal, which came from a part of the bomb hidden under a shelf, appeared to match evidence seized during search warrants, Sakato said.

    One piece of flat metal bar matched a small fragment found inside a ShopVac used at Bruce Turnidge’s property in Jefferson, Sakato said.

    Also this morning, Oregon Department of Justice Special Agent Mike Bethers said burned components of a laptop computer matched parts to a sample computer Bethers examined. The sample computer was the same make and model as one on a receipt found at Joshua Turnidge’s home, Bether said.

    Previous witnesses said the laptop components seized as evidence were found in burn piles on Bruce Turnidge’s property.

    The prosecution is expected to wrap up its case tomorrow.


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