Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Death penalty trial opens in Butler County

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - When Angela Turley was shot to death in her apartment last year, her mother and her ex-boyfriend were there. But they have given different accounts of what happened, and a jury will be asked to decide which version makes more sense, attorneys say.

Anthony Darnell Mason, 44, who last lived in Covington and formerly lived in Elsmere and Erlanger, faces a possible death sentence if convicted in the death of Turley, 27, and in the beating of her mother, Janie. His trial began Monday in Butler County Common Pleas Court. He faces three charges: aggravated murder, aggravated burglary and felonious assault.

Assistant Prosecutor Dan Eichel told a jury of six men and six women that, on last May 13, Mason forced his way into the Northwest Washington Boulevard apartment that Angela Turley and her mother shared. Eichel said Mason killed Angela Turley so she couldn't testify against him in a Kenton Circuit Court hearing that had been set for the next day. Mason faced a criminal charge for violating a no-contact order, Eichel said.

When Angela Turley filed an application for that order about three months before she was killed, she alleged that Mason was following her to work and school, calling her constantly on her cellular phone, and had pushed her several times in December, court records show. That's why she left Mason's Elsmere residence and moved in with her mother, she said, and also wrote in court records: "I am scared to death that there will be more violence in the future."

Once inside the women's Hamilton apartment, Mason fired three shots with a .32-caliber handgun, Eichel said.

One round was probably fired while Mason struck Janie Turley with the gun; that round struck no one. Another round ended up in a knuckle of Mason's left hand, Eichel said, as Mason held down Angela Turley's head and fired a third - and fatal - shot into her skull.

Greg Howard, a lawyer representing Mason, didn't give his client's side of the story to jurors on Monday, as would be customary. Instead, Howard said he intends to give the jury his overview of the case later, after prosecutors finish presenting testimony against Mason.

After the jury left Judge H.J. Bressler's courtroom Monday, Howard acknowledged that Mason and Janie Turley have given differing accounts of the events that led to Angela Turley's death.

"It's going to boil down to a credibility issue of (whom) you want to believe," Howard said.

Donna Kelly, a neighbor who called 911, and Janie Turley are among the witnesses scheduled to testify today.


E-mail jmorse@enquirer.com

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