Man gets 15 years for murder

Published 9:15 pm Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A 15-year-old murder finally was resolved Wednesday with the sentencing of the shooter.

Lonnie Bowers Jr. will serve 15 years for the murder of 21-year-old Carl Shawn Turner at a party on Halifax Street on Sept. 28, 1997. He was sentenced by Judge Carl Eason Jr.

The trail went cold after the shooting until the Suffolk Police Department’s Cold Case Unit was able to develop new leads and identify Bowers as a suspect. He was indicted in 2009 and spent more than two years on the department’s most-wanted list before being arrested in December 2011 in Washington, D.C.

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He initially pleaded not guilty but then changed his plea shortly before his trial was to start in June.

Prosecutor Will Jamerson said it would have been a difficult case to prosecute if it had gone to trial.

“This is a case that’s 15 years old,” Jamerson said, adding there was “basically no forensic evidence.” A jury also could have struggled with witness credibility and the passage of time, Jamerson said.

“We feel it’s a fair disposition, all things considered,” he said.

Eason said it was for those reasons only that he was accepting the plea agreement.

Defense attorney Greg Matthews said Bowers made a wise choice when he decided to plead guilty.

“He knew what the evidence was,” Matthews said. “He’s ready to put this matter behind him, go upstate and do his time.”

Kelsey Turner, the victim’s brother, described the impact of his death on his family as “apocalyptic.”

“It was like taking somebody’s world away from them,” said Turner, who was only 8 years old when his brother died. “He was basically my father figure. I never thought I would get to see the day when I’d be sitting in front of him — the man that actually did it.”

Judy Nixon, the victim’s mother, said everybody in the family was traumatized, including Turner’s four children.

“I feel like it was some justice served, but this will never go away,” she said. “It will always be in our heart.”

She thanked Suffolk Police Department for the hours they put into investigating her son’s murder.

Bowers’ sentence includes 40 years with 28 suspended for second-degree murder and three years for using a firearm in the commission of a felony. A charge of shooting in the commission of a felony was not prosecuted.

After his release, Bowers will be on supervised probation for 30 years and must pay more than $5,000 in restitution for Turner’s funeral expenses.