Lyle boy who killed teacher is paroled

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Friday, October 18, 1985
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Lyle boy who killed teacher is paroled

By Conrad deFiebre
Southern Minnesota Correspondent

A boy convicted of the premeditated murder of his eighth-grade math teacher three years ago in Lyle, Minn., has been paroled from the Red Wing juvenile detention center.

The boy, now 17, is living with his parents elsewhere in Minnesota and attending college after earning his high school diploma a year early, a corrections official said Thursday.

"If he's in college, I wouldn't want to be his teacher," said Mower County Sheriff Wayne Goodnature, who took the confessions used to convict the boy. He said he was outraged that the boy was released a year and a half before his 19th birthday, his mandatory release date.

But Jay Lindgren, the corrections official who authorized the release, said the boy has been rehabilitated and poses no danger to the public.

The boy, whose name has never been made public, was 14 when he shot and killed his teacher and neighbor, Sharon Turnbull, allegedly over a poor grade. Turnbull, 33, was struck in the head by a .22 caliber bullet fired through her screen door as she sat on her living-room floor sewing and watching television on Aug. 6, 1982.

The boy was sent to Red Wing shortly afterward, six months before a judge found him delinquent by reason of having committed first-degree murder. The judge, Harold Krieger, of Olmsted County, left the sentence up to corrections officials.

The boy was paroled July 8 after 35 months in custody, some of it spent on several weeklong test furloughs this year to his parents' home, Lindgren said.

"My outrage is with a law that can allow a kid to murder somebody with premeditation and malice and do only three years for it," Goodnature said yesterday. "That's not just retribution for a human life. The least we can do is hold him for as long as the law allows."

Lindgren said he had determined that the boy would have to stay at Red Wing for at least two years "because of the seriousness of the crime." But he said supervised release now will be best for the boy

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and the community.

Until the Corrections Department's jurisdiction over him ends when he turns 19, the boy's parole will be subject to revocation even for "status" offenses such as breaking curfew or drinking.

"It would be a real disservice to just plop him out after five years in an institution," Lindgren said. "We feel parole and aftercare are an important part of rehabilitation.

"The boy's adjustment at Red Wing was exemplary. Over the course of his stay he had just one minor offense: smoking a cigarette without permission. There are goals given to each person before they will be released. The major one for him was to focus on the victim."

Goodnature said the boy never admitted to his counselors at Red Wing that he killed Turnbull.

"He is not rehabilitated," Goodnature said. "You can't treat someone who refused to admit he did anything wrong."

He also said the boy should have been tried as an adult, as are many juveniles charged with serious crimes.

The Lyle boy is the only Minnesotan now under a juvenile court ruling of delinquency for first-degree murder, Lindgren said.

"This kid was found to be in possession of his faculties," Goodnature said. "He's very bright. He knew right from wrong. But something went terribly wrong for him to pick up a rifle and walk across the street and kill his teacher."

The boy was evaluated by psychologists last spring and found to be normal, Lindgren said. In addition to attending college, he now has a part-time job after working full time last summer, Lindgren added.

"None of us involved in this decision would claim that the time this young man spent with us equals another human life," Lindgren said. "But one of the primary motives for the juvenile system is rehabilitation. There's every indication that this young man will lead a productive life."