1989 Mystery Unraveled: A South Carolina Couple Vindicated 35 Years After a 5-year-old’s Death


A South Carolina legal dropped murder charges against Victor Lee Turner and Megan Renee Turner, who were arrested in January and charged in the 1989 cold case killing of Justin Lee Turner, Victor’s son, on Friday, citing concerns about the case’s evidence.

The father and stepmother were accused around 35 years after the 5-year-old boy’s body was discovered near his family’s home, CNN previously reported.

Circuit Judge Roger Young ruled that the original detective in the case changed his interpretations of the evidence, and with more than 20 witnesses either dead or unable to testify, the couple could not mount a fair defense or question witnesses who claimed to have made incriminating statements, according to The Associated Press.

The judge banned prosecutors from prosecuting the pair again, according to the Associated Press.

The Turners spoke outside court after the charges were dropped, claiming their innocence. “I’m glad it’s over with,” Victor Turner said. “I am still sad about it. That’s all I can say about it for now, although I can lift my head a little.”

“We didn’t do it,” Megan Turner explained.

In his ruling, Young stated, “This is a piece of circumstantial evidence (case) based in part on allegedly damning utterances made to other parties. According to the Associated Press, the defense would suffer greatly if those witnesses were unavailable for cross-examination. The investigator who investigated the case in 1989 was rehired by the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office in 2021 to look into cold cases.

“Judge Young has upheld his oath of office by following the law,” the Ninth Circuit Solicitor’s Office said in a statement. “As the testimony at the motions hearing demonstrated, the passage of time since this horrific crime has resulted in witness testimony and material that is no longer available. Furthermore, problems done 35 years ago could not be corrected.

According to an affidavit released to CNN by the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office in January, the Turners of Cross Hill falsely reported their son missing on March 3, stating he never got off the school bus. Witnesses, however, testified that the child was never on the bus or in school that day, according to their affidavits.

According to records disclosed earlier this year, the Turners were the “last and only persons” to see and contact with their son before his death.

“This is not the outcome we were hoping for; however, we understand the complexities of prosecuting cases for crimes committed years ago,” Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis said in a statement Friday.

The family of Justin Turner, although requesting privacy, stated that the legal system failed.

“Based on the overwhelming evidence, those guilty of Justin’s killing had the opportunity to face justice here, but they chose to remain silent and face God’s final justice for eternity! “The truth is there; justice is not.”

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