Mother of convicted murderer pleads for son's life during death penalty sentencing

Mother of convicted murderer pleads for son's life during death penalty sentencing

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The mother of convicted murderer Lee Turner Jr. cried as she asked jurors to spare her son's life in the penalty phase of his double murder trial. The same jury convicted Turner, 25 of double murder in the deaths of Edward Gurtner, 43, and Randy Chaney, 54, at the CarQuest Auto Parts on Airline Highway in 2011.

"I'm a mother that's helpless," said Melissa Moss, Turner's mother. "All I can do is get him a bible and tell him to read it."

Turner's defense attorneys have said this case was never about guilt or innocence, but rather saving their client from the death penalty.

On the stand Turner's mother answered a number of questions pertaining to her parenting and whether that might have had any affect on Turner as he developed.

"You want to put my life on trial," she told defense attorney Margaret Lagatutta during questioning. "Putting me on trial is not going to help my son, but if that is what you want to do, then we can do this."

Moss sobbed loudly during most of her testimony, and at one point the judge handling the case asked for a brief recess so she could collect herself.

Moss apologized to the victim's family from the witness stand and testified that she loves her son and wants to see his life saved.

"I love my kids. I will fight for every last kid, and I will fight for them until the day I die," Moss testified. "I cannot let them kill my baby. I'm here because I am begging that they don't kill my child."

Defense attorneys also called other family members including Turner's grandmother who also apologized for her grandson's actions and told him that she loved him.

Late Thursday the defense called on an expert witness to testify to Turner's mental state and how his upbringing could have influenced things.

The prosecution team plans to call its own expert witness to testify to Turner's mental state.

Wednesday's testimony was also from several of Turner's family members, all describing him as someone they would never imagine in this situation.

Turner's half brother, Demarcus Moss, told jurors after the shooting, his family actually thought he had committed the crime, not Turner.

Kedron Powell, Turner's uncle, testified he missed a call from his nephew a few days before the murders, and now looking back, he says he feels maybe Turner was reaching out for help.

"If I had answered, none of us would be here. I think it's my fault," said Powell to the jurors.

Emphasis was placed on how Turner grew up - at times going hungry and growing up in different homes with different men his mother was dating.

Both sides hope to have a verdict by the end of this week.

District Court Judge Richard Anderson is presiding over the case.

Once all of the witnesses are heard the judge will turn the penalty phase over to the jury and they will decide if Lee Turner should get a life sentence or the death penalty.

A death sentence must be unanimous.

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