RICHMOND, Texas A former Texas prison guard received a death sentence Tuesday for the 2009 slayings of his wife and mother-in-law.
A Fort Bend County jury deliberated for about four hours before condemning Albert James Turner, 46, for the stabbing deaths of wife Keitha Turner, 39, and mother-in-law Betty Joe Frank, 66, at Frank s suburban Houston home.
The jury could have returned a sentence of life in prison without parole.
Turner had fled the state after the Dec. 26, 2009, slayings at his in-laws home in Rosenberg, about 30 miles southwest of Houston. A blood-stained car linked to Turner was found near Atlanta, and Turner was arrested in March 2010 in Concord, N.C.
The nationwide manhunt was aided by publicity from the television show America s Most Wanted. At the time of the slayings, Turner was a corrections officer at the Jester Unit, a psychiatric prison in Fort Bend County.
The Houston Chronicle reported that prosecutor Jill Stotts reminded jurors during closing arguments Tuesday that Turner killed his wife in the same bed where their then-5-year-old daughter was sleeping. Then, he slit the Frank s neck in front of their other children, Stotts said.
He is a cold-hearted murderer who has no regard for life a total lack of conscience. He s dangerous, she said.
Turner s attorneys had tried to persuade the jury to spare Turner s life, describing him as an honorably discharged Gulf War veteran with no criminal history who posed no threat to society.
There is a very low probability that he will commit serious violence if he s confined for the rest of his life, said Mark Cunningham, a Dallas-based forensic psychologist testifying for the defense.
Defense attorney Patrick McCann also portrayed Turner as a man gripped by delusions and paranoia that led him to kill his wife in the heat of jealous passion. He said Frank s death was accidental.