Original article no longer available
TULSA, Okla. (AP) Less than a week before his scheduled execution Thursday for the slaying of his estranged girlfriend, Kenneth Eugene Turrentine had difficulty explaining the why of his act.
He told the Pardon and Parole Board about the alcohol and the antidepressants he’d taken. But in the end, he couldn’t answer the board members’ questions about motive.
“I’ve been struggling with that for years,” he said last week, just before the board declined to spare him for the murder of Anita Richardson 11 years ago in Tulsa.
Turrentine had one appeal remaining before the U.S. Supreme Court. The 52-year-old’s attorneys filed it on Wednesday, but the court did not immediately respond.
The execution was scheduled for 6 p.m. deep in the bunker-like H-unit at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
Turrentine originally received death sentences for the June 4, 1994, killings of Richardson’s 13-year-old son, Martise, and her 22-year-old daughter Tina Pennington in a shooting spree that also claimed Turrentine’s 47-year-old sister, Avon Stevenson.
But a federal appeals court in 2004 threw out his convictions and death sentences in the slayings of Richardson’s children because of a judge’s error during the trial. He received a no-parole life term for his sister’s slaying.
Prosecutors said Turrentine believed Richardson was seeing other men and that his sister was helping her deceive him.
They said he first went to his sister’s home and confronted her with his accusations. When she laughed at him and called him a “punk,” he shot her in the head, they alleged. He then went to Richardson’s Tulsa home, where the other shootings occurred.
Turrentine’s mother, Dorothy Vinson, who is also Stevenson’s mother, had begged the pardon and parole board to spare his life, saying, “it wasn’t the Kenneth that everyone knows” who had committed the murders.
But Richardson’s sister, Teresa Youngblood, told the board in a letter about the pain of her family’s loss.
“A very small and close-knit family with many years of happiness, love and joy (as well as problems just as any other family may have) suddenly and abruptly became even smaller on that sad and horrific night,” she wrote.
She described Richardson as “a vibrant, fun-loving, joyful person to be around.” Pennington had been born blind and mentally disabled and had survived several life-threatening surgeries, she said. And Martise was a quiet and smart boy, “who loved no one more than his mother,” she said.
“The man of the family, he tried to protect his mother on many occasions, even the night of her death,” Youngblood wrote.
Prosecutors contended the killings were calculated. They argued that Turrentine obtained a .22-caliber pistol from his ex-wife the morning of the murders and shot all four victims in the head.
Richardson was shot as she “tearfully languished over her children’s bodies,” former assistant district attorney Todd Singer wrote in a recent letter to the Tulsa World that urged the focus be on the victims, not Turrentine.
Turrentine asked for a last meal that included fried catfish and eight to 10 pieces of chicken. He balanced that with a request for an equal number of slices of cheesecake.