Parents of accused Lyle boy allege police manipulation

Article Type: 
Publication Date: 
Tuesday, December 28, 1982
Publication Date Is Approx: 
Referenced Places: 

Parents of accused Lyle boy allege police manipulation

By Bill McAuliffe
Southern Minnesota Correspondent

Austin, Minn.
The parents of the 14-year-old Lyle, Minn., boy accused of killing a teacher testified Monday that investigators manipulated them into convincing their son to confess to the crime.

The parents testified after the defense began presenting its case as the murder hearing entered its second week at the Mower County Courthouse.

The boy's mother said that when police seized a .22 caliber rifle from the family's home on Aug. 12, she and her husband confronted the boy about the Aug. 6 shooting death of Sharon Turnbull. Turnbull was shot as she sat on the floor of her living room, sewing and watching television.

The boy's mother testified that when they confronted the boy with the fact that the gun had been found, he said he didn't do it.

"We said it was obvious that his dad and I didn't. He denied it, but we kept hounding him. Then he said he could have, but he didn't remember."

The boy "never really did say he'd done it," the mother added. "But I was thinking he'd done it. The police told us. I was also thinking he was a sick boy, because the police told us. We believed everything they said. They said he was sick, and they had the gun. We had no reason no to believe them."

And the boy's father testified: "I think the police manipulated us."

He said that after agents of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension had searched the house and seized the rifle, they told the parents to take the boy home and get a confession.

The mother and father testified that after their decision with their son, the mother called authorities and told them they could return to the house.

The boy gave a confession first to Mower County Sheriff Wayne Goodnature at the family's home, and later to crime bureau agents at the county courthouse. Agent Paul Gerber testified that the boy admitted seven times having killed Turnbull, "but had no recall of how he'd done it."

The boy's confession was the second received by crime bureau agents on Aug. 12. Goodnature and several agents testified earlier that they dismissed a 15-year-old Lyle youth's confession because it did not square with the evidence. Testimony has shown that the defendant, in his confession, recalled shooting Turnbull with his .22 rifle but said he'd blacked out and didn't remember details.

The defendant's mother also testified yesterday that she didn't get along with Sharon Turnbull, and that she and her son had once been upset about a grade Turnbull had given the boy. But she denied ever asking the boy if he had shot Sharon Turnbull for her sake. Goodnature had testified that she had asked her son that during this confession at home.

The hearing, which is expected to conclude this week, is the equivalent of an adult murder trial. However, the defendant cannot be convicted of first-degree murder, only of having committed the delinquent act of first-degree murder. Penalties range from counseling to placement in a juvenile detention center until he reaches the age of 19.