Witness says other youth vowed to kill Turnbull

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Wednesday, December 29, 1982
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Witness says other youth vowed to kill Turnbull

By Bill McAuliffe
Southern Minnesota Correspondent

Austin, Minn.
A schoolmate of the Lyle youth whose confession to the killing of schoolteacher Sharon Turnbull was rejected by investigators testified Tuesday that the youth had vowed last January to kill the teacher.

The witness was the last to be called by the defense in the murder hearing for a 14-year-old boy accused of killing Turnbull. Final arguments were scheduled this morning at Mower County Courthouse.

The witness, subpoenaed by defense attorney Bruce Hanley, said he told investigators that the 15-year-old had told him in a burst of temper at school that he wanted to kill Turnbull.

"He came down from her class to where I was, and said he was going to kill her," the witness testified, repeating what he had told investigators, "He said, 'I'm going to kill that...' I'm not going to say it, but it was Sharon Turnbull he was talking about. He had burst out of her room."

The witness also testified that he had heard other pupils threaten to kill various teachers- "darn near every teacher in school."

A relative of the 15-year-old also testified yesterday, saying the boy resented the friendship between Turnbull and his mother.

"Sharon was at the house continuously," the witness testified. "He was jealous of that."

The witness also said that the boy had a "terrific temper" and that Turnbull was not well-liked by Lyle students.

Earlier in the six-day hearing, Mower County Sheriff Wayne Goodnature said he and other investigators dismissed the 15-year-old's confession in spite of its detail because is did not square with evidence they had uncovered.

The 14-year-old defendant told investigators Aug. 12, six days after the killing, that he had shot Turnbull with his .22 caliber rifle but that he blacked out and didn't remember anything else.

After the defense rested its case yesterday, prosecutor Charlotte Peterson called Goodnature to the stand for the fifth time, this time to impeach testimony by the defendant's mother.

The mother had said she and her husband were not in the kitchen with the boy and the sheriff when the confession was obtained Aug. 12; Goodnature reiterated his testimony that the parents were in the room.

Hanley later moved that the testimony of four prosecution witnesses be stricken from the record because their names had not appeared on the pretrial witness list. Olmsted County Judge Harold Krieger, who is hearing the case, denied the motion.

Krieger instructed Hanley and prosector Charlotte Peterson to prepare oral final arguments as well as briefs.

Peterson called 29 witnesses in the hearing, Hanley five. The defendant did not testify.

Because the hearing is a juvenile proceeding, there is no jury. Also, there can be no first-degree murder conviction in the case. The hearing can only determine whether the defendant committed the delinquent act of first-degree murder. Possible penalties range from counseling to placement in a juvenile detention center until the youth turns 19.