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S4E7: Dusty Turner: A Navy Seal Behind Bars for 22 Years for a Murder Even Though the Actual Killer Confessed

Dusty Turner was a 20-year-old Navy SEAL trainee when he was arrested for the murder and abduction of Jennifer Evans. On June 19th, 1995, Dusty Turner was out at a bar with some friends in Virginia Beach, VA, including his roommate and training partner, Billy Brown. Dusty Turner and Jennifer Evans were sitting in his car waiting for Evans’s friends to join them when an extremely intoxicated Billy Brown forced his way into the back seat and began insulting Evans and pulling her hair. When she tried to defend herself, Brown suddenly attacked her, wrapped his arms around her neck in a forceful choke hold, and killed her instantly. All the while Dusty Turner had been prying and clawing Brown’s hand off of Evans, pleading with him to stop. Finally realizing that she was dead, Dusty panicked and reacted to his intensive SEAL training that demanded “always protect your swim buddy” regardless of the cost. Dusty’s instinct for survival and misplaced loyalty to Brown took over as he drove out of the parking lot and helped Brown hide the victim’s body in a nearby wooded area. Eight days later, Dusty confessed the entire story to his commanding officer and agreed to take the police to the body after being assured that he would only be used as a witness during the trial. During Billy Brown’s trial in 1996, Brown testified against Dusty to receive a lesser sentence of 72 years in prison. Three months later, with an outraged community and media frenzy surrounding the case, Dusty Turner was convicted of first-degree murder and abduction, and sentenced to 82 years in prison. In 2002, Billy Brown confessed to Jennifer Evans’ murder and said that Dusty Turner played no part in it. Dusty Turner petitioned for a “writ of actual innocence” and his conviction was overturned by a three-judge panel of the Virginia State Court of Appeals. However, the State Attorney General’s Office quickly appealed this decision and the original Court of Appeals ruling was overturned. To date, Dusty Turner has served nearly 22 years in prison, over half of his life.

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Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is a production of Lava For Good™ Podcasts in association with Signal Co. No1 and PRX.

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