The Edmond Sun

August 15, 2012

Victim's family objects to parole in cyanide murder

Dylan Goforth
CNHI News Service

MUSKOGEE — A man convicted of first-degree murder will have the second phase of his parole hearing today, and the family of the boy he killed wants him to stay behind bars.Fa

Danny Turner was 17 years old in 1991 when he took potassium cyanide from Midway High School. Turner testified at his trial that it was his friend, Quincy Scott who came up with the idea to put it in a drink, and it was Scott who gave it to Jerry Don Hurst outside a Checotah convenience store.

Witnesses said Hurst, 19, took one drink, spit it out and fell comatose on the ground.

Hurst died the next day, Aug. 21, at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa.

Now, Turner is nearing potential freedom, and Hurst’s family wants none of

it.

“He should stay in prison,” Hurst’s aunt, Ramona Payne, said. “You get out of prison in 20 years for murder? You can just kill someone and get out in 20 years and that’s OK? That’s not OK.”

Payne said Hurst was “the nicest boy.” “You know how when boys get older they don’t want to hug you?” Payne said. “Well, Jerry Don wasn’t like that. He liked all the hugs you could give him.”

Scott pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He was released from prison in March 2010.

Turner, 38, will have a hearing today in Oklahoma City as part of the second stage of his parole hearing.

At the first stage, the Pardon and Parole Board receives a report and decides whether to pass the inmate to phase two.

During the second phase, family members of the victim and a representative from the district attorney’s office can speak as to why the offender should not be released.

Payne said District 25 District Attorney Rob Barris accompanied the family to Oklahoma City on Tuesday to appeal to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board and explain that Turner didn’t deserve freedom.

“(Rob) has been a big help to us,” Payne said. “He gave a very nice speech.”

Barris said he was the prosecuting attorney in McIntosh County who helped get the first-degree murder conviction for Turner in 1992.

“The argument I made was that parole ought to be for people indicating a change in their lives, who have accepted responsibility, accountability,” Barris said. “Everything we’ve gotten from (the Department of Corrections) said he still claims it was just a high school prank. He hasn’t changed.”

Turner was convicted of stealing the potassium cyanide from a chemistry room at Midway School. Checotah police said they probably seized enough potassium cyanide to “kill

everybody in McIntosh County.”

Hurst’s aunt said she’s concerned Turner hasn’t been rehabilitated.

“(Turner) hasn’t changed, he hasn’t accepted responsibility,” Payne said. “It could happen again if he gets out. What’s to say he couldn’t do something else if he’s the same person he was then.”

DYLAN GOFORTH writes for the Muskogee Phoenix.