Jurors recalled watching Joshua Turnidge light up as he told them a derogatory joke on the witness stand.
PORTLAND — Jurors recalled watching Joshua Turnidge light up as he told them a derogatory joke on the witness stand. They remembered his breezy confidence while testifying. They noted how he stopped making eye contact with them when prosecutors attacked his statements.
But throughout his three-month-long aggravated murder trial, they didn't see a shred of what might have spared him a death sentence: remorse.
Marion County jurors who unanimously decided to sentence Turnidge and his father to death for the December 2008 Woodburn bank bombing cited his arrogance as one element in a mountain of evidence and testimony that led them to their verdicts.
Bruce Turnidge didn't testify in his own defense, but similarly appeared unmoved during the trial, with little reaction during even the most dramatic revelations.
Stephanie Deprima said she found herself looking for some sign of emotion. "Having to do this just went against my values and my morals," Deprima said. "Just give us something: remorse, expression, tears... We wanted to save them so badly but there was such a lack of emotion and caring and compassion."
She was among nine women and three men on the jury. Several talked about their deliberations for the first time Wednesday.
They took five hours last month to find Joshua Turnidge, 34, and his father, Bruce Turnidge, 59, guilty on 18 counts each of aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder and other charges. They then spent about the same amount of time determining that each deserved the death penalty for building a bomb that went off Dec. 12, 2008, at a West Coast Bank branch as part of a failed bank robbery plot.
The explosion killed Oregon State Police Senior Trooper William Hakim and Woodburn police Capt. Tom Tennant, severely injured Woodburn Police Chief Scott Russell and wounded bank employee Laurie Perkett.
Jurors said they considered account after account of the Turnidges' past misdeeds and testimony that the two could sway other inmates to their dangerous anti-establishment beliefs if allowed to live in the general prison population.
They also took into account the tremendous loss suffered by the families of the police officers who died.
"Rebecca Tennant won't get to give her dad a hug again," said juror Steve Salisbury, referring to the slain police captain's oldest daughter. "Why does Josh deserve to give his daughter a hug again?"
Defense attorneys offered testimony that the 12-year-old girl would be devastated by death sentences for her father and grandfather. But Salisbury noted that Janet Turnidge — Joshua Turnidge's mother and Bruce Turnidge's wife — was the girl's primary caregiver. He also questioned the kind of influence the two men would have on the girl.
Among other testimony that influenced their decisions: a retired couple who said Joshua Turnidge had borrowed $30,000 but never repaid a dime; a corrections manager's details of the prison culture; one inmate's description of Bruce Turnidge as "brilliant," signaling the influence he could wield; the obvious delight Joshua Turnidge exhibited in retelling a joke that insulted police.
And they pointed to what Janet Turnidge did not say on the stand.
Her testimony was "all for (her granddaughter), like she'd already known in her heart what kind of people they were," Deprima told The Oregonian. "I thought, 'She's not even asking for their lives.' I kept thinking, 'Beg for them, plead for them.' But she didn't."
Jurors also did not believe Joshua Turnidge when he testified that he knew nothing of the plot and that his father was acting alone.
"Having kids, you can almost tell when someone is being truthful," Salisbury said. "He didn't look at any of us again."
Jurors said Bruce Turnidge simply didn't mount much of a defense to consider. "We didn't see any rationale advanced," said Charlie Peterson, the presiding juror.
Instead, the state's evidence showed the father and son's pattern of scamming people and dreaming up crimes, Peterson said. "It's just that criminal thinking doesn't go away," he said.
The jury did not dwell significantly on the role that Hakim, a bomb technician, may have played in detonating the bomb, Peterson said. The Turnidges' defense teams highlighted Hakim's actions, which included banging on the bomb and trying to pry it open after mistakenly concluding it was a hoax.
"After you hear everything, you kind of conclude there probably was a mistake," Peterson said. But it didn't matter. "If (the Turnidges) didn't make it, it wouldn't have been a problem. If they were trying to scare somebody, why make a live one? ... That was basically a non-issue."
Despite their speed in making their decisions, jurors did not take the process lightly, Peterson said. They each discussed how they connected the dots to lead to their conclusions.
During the guilt phase of deliberations, jurors spent more time debating the robbery charges than the aggravated murder counts, he said. Once they received clarification that robbery does not require that someone make a demand for money or succeed in acquiring money, jurors unanimously returned a verdict of guilt on that as well.
When they entered deliberations for the death penalty, jurors knew they had to shed any personal or religious beliefs about possible redemption and follow the judge's instructions and the legal process that requires answering four questions affirmatively to deliver the death penalty, including the future danger of a defendant.
"It was a decision based on evidence and testimony," Peterson said. "It was very sobering."
Marion County Circuit Judge Thomas Hart will formally impose death sentences Jan. 24 on the Turnidges, making them the 35th and 36th inmates to join Oregon's death row. The sentences will automatically go to the Oregon Supreme Court for review.
The trial took a profound toll on jurors, said Peterson, who retired two years ago after a long career as a school counselor.
Jurors not only examined gruesome photos from the autopsies, but they also listened to hundreds of hours of detailed testimony and heart-wrenching accounts from police officers who responded to the scene and family members of the men who died. But they couldn't share the burden with anyone.
"We're carrying around all this stuff for three months," Peterson said. "It makes even a little thing into a bigger thing, because you're so emotionally filled up."
"It's affected me in ways that I never expected," said juror Jill Brueckner. She's having trouble sleeping, trying to cope with the intensity of the trial and the gravity of the decision she and the others had to make.
"The state of Oregon asked us to do something twice in a week that I feel no one should have to do," she said. "The death penalty — it's easy to say that you agree with it, it's another thing to actually impose it on someone."
Jurors postponed vacations and one woman missed her child's college graduation. They shifted schedules to work nights and weekends. And they watched the leaves on a tree outside the courthouse windows change colors, knowing "those leaves would be off that tree before we were done," Brueckner said.
But they committed to do the best job they could.
"Heaven forbid," she said, that a loved one would face the same situation. "You want someone who's going to listen."