Man Found Guilty of Murder


That is the verdict for the man now convicted of killing Tallahassee woman Lessie Harris.

It took jurors only an hour to reach the guilty verdict for John Turner.

The victim's family members say they'd been counting the days on the calendar. They say 4,371 days- just short of 12 years after Lessie Harris's death, justice is now served.

It was hard for Lessie Harris's family members to watch state prosecutor Georgia Cappleman demonstrate the 35 times Harris was stabbed.

But they were happy to hear the words from the jury shortly after: "John Turner is found guilty of first degree murder."

Gina Wilson, Lessie Harris's Niece, said, "To find the person was vindicating, but to see him sentenced so that he doesn't do this to someone else, is just an awesome feeling."

Harris was killed in July of 1996. She was found in a pool of blood on the floor of her Poinsettia Drive home in Tallahassee.

Her older sister, Ruby Harris, tells the court she spoke with her the day before. "She called me and she said 'I don't want anything. I just called.' That's the last time I heard her voice."

A key part of the trial is when the jury heard Turner's taped interrogation where he denied owning a pair of boxer shorts that were found near Harris's body, even though his DNA was found on the underwear.

"Why is he so worried about these boxer shorts? I submit because he realized he had left them at the scene, made a mistake." Said, Cappleman.

The defense says Turner did not match any of the 17 unidentified fingerprints found in Harris's home nor was DNA found on Harris's body.

However, Turner is sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

Harris's niece says the family decided against the death penalty and that they only wanted to make sure he is never freed.

The sister ended her address to the court by saying, "I pray for him that he would be redeemed by God. I forgive him."
12:00pm Update

Late Wednesday morning the jury in the trial of John Turner came back with their verdict of guilty. Turner was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

That verdict came very quickly. Just after 10 a.m. Wednesday the jury got the case after the prosecution and the defense presented their closing arguments.

The prosecution pointed to the fact that the victim had been stabbed 35 times and said it proved Turner intended to kill Lessie Harris. Her body was discovered in her home on Poinsettia Drive in Tallahassee in July 1996.

The prosecution also reminded the jury of the DNA in boxer shorts found at the scene that matched the suspect.

But the defense said no fingerprints at the scene matched Turner and said the clothing with Turner's DNA on it might have been at the scene for some time since they had a relationship, but in the end the jury sided with the prosecution in finding Turner guilty.