Mistrial denied in teacher's slaying

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Wednesday, December 22, 1982
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Mistrial denied in teacher's slaying

By Bill McAuliffe
Southern Minnesota Correspondent

Austin, Minn.
The murder hearing for a 14-year-old youth accessed in the shooting death of Lyle, Minn., schoolteacher Sharon Turnbull was recessed for a day Tuesday after a defense motion to declare a mistrial was denied.

Defense attorney Bruce Hanley moved for a mistrial after Assistant Mower County Attorney Charlotte Peterson tried to introduce as evidence the findings of a search of the youth's home shortly after the killing in August. Hanley said he had not seen the written report of the search results.

Olmsted County Judge Harold Krieger, who is conducting the juvenile hearing, said the recess would give Hanley time to review the results of the search files that were sealed in previous hearings but that Peterson is expected to try to introduce as evidence.

The proceedings, which began Monday at the Mower County Courthouse, are the equivalent of an adult murder trial, except that the youth came be found guilty only of having committed a delinquent act rather than of having committed first-degree murder. Possible penalties range from counseling to placement in a juvenile detention center until the age of 19.

The youth also is not entitled to a jury trial and all spectators, including members of his family and the public, have been barred from the courtroom. News reporters, however, have been allowed in under terms of a previous court ruling and about 10 reporters have been attending the trial.

Krieger said the two closed files contain written descriptions of searches of two other homes during the investigation after Turnbull's death. One search was conducted at the home of

Trial continued on page 9B

Sharon Turnbull

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one of yesterday's witnesses- a witness whose children were former pupils of Turnbull's.

Testimony yesterday was directed at establishing the time of death.

Tom Lubovich, Lyle School District superintendent and a neighbor of Turnbull, said he heard a bang and saw a flash coming from near Turnbull's house just before midnight on Aug. 5. He said he then heard laughter and footsteps running away from the Turnbull house. Under cross-examination he said he could not tell whether the voice was young or old or whether there was more than one voice.

Another neighbor testified that a firecracker-like noise woke her up at 12:29 a.m. Aug. 6. She had noted the time on her digital clock. She said she looked out her window in several directions but didn't see anything out of the ordinary. Under cross-examination she said it would not be unusual to find youths on the street in Lyle at that hour.

Diane Lenz, a long-time friend of Turnbull's, testified that Turnbull had visited her house on the evening of Aug. 5 and left at 12:05 a.m. Aug. 6. Lenz testified that Turnbull, who had attended a women's club meeting that evening, had been wearing clothes different from those in which she was found dead the morning of Aug. 7. Turnbull was wearing jeans, a T-shirt and gym shoes when she was found.

Krieger said more than 50 witnesses will be called to testify before final arguments are made. The prosecution had called 13 witnesses through yesterday, the second day of the hearing. Krieger said the trial will continue into next week.