The Commission on Capital Cases was not funded in the FY 2011-2012 General Appropriations Act, and the Commission ceased operations on June 30, 2011. This site and the Commission website are being retained to provide access to historical materials.

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These actions are effective July 1, 2011.

Disclaimer: The Commission on Capital Cases receives this information from a variety of sources. The site will be updated consistently as information is received and will be audited bi-annually. We make every attempt to ensure the accuracy of the information provided; however, the information should be verified by the applicable court prior to using it for legal or statistical purposes.


Last NameFirst NamePictureDC NumberAgencyCase Summary
TurnerJames V297547th Circuit PDCase Summary

Last Action

DateCourtCase NumberLast Action
4/24/2008CC05-01954Sentenced to death
5/27/2008FSC08-975Direct Appeal filed
4/9/2009FSC08-975Initial brief filed
7/7/2009FSC08-975Answer brief filed
9/2/2009FSC08-975Reply brief filed
12/9/2009FSC08-975Oral arguments held
5/20/2010FSC08-975FSC affirmed convictions and sentences
6/10/2010FSC08-975Mandate issued
8/20/2010USSC10-6270Petition for Writ of Certiorari filed
9/15/2010USSC10-6270Response filed
10/18/2010USSC10-6270Petition denied

Current Attorney


Last Updated

2008-01-09 11:43:13.0

Case Summary
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The Commission on Capital Cases updates this information regularly

The Commission on Capital Cases updates thisinformation regularly.  This information; however, is subject to change and maynot reflect the latest status of an inmate’s case and should not be relied uponfor statistical or legal purposes. 


Turner, James D. (W/M)

DC# V29754

DOB: 01/27/72


7th Judicial Circuit, St. Johns County Case # 05-01954-CF

Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Wendy W. Berger

Attorney, Trial: James R. Valerino – Public Defender’sOffice

Attorney, Direct Appeal: George D. E. Burden – PublicDefender’s Office

Attorney, Collateral Appeals:  Christopher S. Quarles –Federal


Date of Offense: 09/30/05

Date of Sentence: 04/24/08



Circumstances of Offense:


James Daniel Turner had been in jail in Newberry County,South Carolina, on a violation of probation charge. The sheriff’s officeassigned him to work on various tasks. He was considered trustworthy, whichgave him special privileges such as unrestricted access to most of thesheriff’s office and keys to vehicles in their parking lots. On 09/28/05,Turner escaped from the Newberry County Jail in a stolen Newberry County OfficeSports Utility Vehicle (SUV). The SUV was found the next day in a parking lotin St. Johns County, Florida, by local employees. Turner had left his identificationcard and crack cocaine in the vehicle.


On the morning of 09/30/05, Turner was spotted by two guestsand several housekeepers at the Comfort Inn in St. Augustine. He had passed byRenee Howard, her four children, granddaughter, and Stacia Raybon, when on theywere on their way to breakfast at the motel. After breakfast, Howard drove herson to work and daughter to school. Two of the other children joined her in thetruck. When Howard returned to the motel, Raybon came downstairs to help herwith the children. She saw Turner standing outside their room on her way down.Howard, Raybon, and the three children returned to the motel room to preparefor checking out.


Raybon was preparing bottles for the children when Turnerentered their room. He struck Howard first and then attacked Raybon by stabbingher in the elbow. Turner saw Howard move back towards the door entrance.Meanwhile, Raybon grabbed her purse and locked herself in the bathroom. Raybonheard hitting noises and children screaming outside the bathroom. Turner triedto enter the bathroom several times. Raybon asked him to give her one of thekids. He demanded money, so Raybon gave him several credit cards. Turnerallowed one of the children to enter the bathroom with Raybon. She pleaded withTurner to not hurt her or the children. He told her to wait 10 minutes beforeleaving the room. Turner left one minute later, and Raybon came out of thebathroom to find Howard dead. The pathologist who conducted the autopsyconcluded that Howard died due to shock and blood loss from 15 stab wounds.


Raybon attempted to call 911 from the hotel room, but wasunable to connect. One of the housekeepers allowed Raybon to use her cellphone. When the police arrived, Raybon provided a description of Turner andHoward’s truck, which was now missing.


Deputy Graham T. Harris spotted the truck, with Turnerdriving it, five miles away from the Comfort Inn. He approached the truck andturned on his flashing lights, but the truck went in reverse, rear-ending thefront end of Harris’s patrol car. Turner pulled away from Harris’s car, butthen began to hit the driver’s side. Harris accelerated in an attempt toescape, but Turner continued to hit him from behind. Eventually, the truck hita guard rail on the Deep Creek Bridge. Turner exited the truck and jumped offof the bridge into the creek below.


Multiple deputies arrived at the bridge, bringing a searchcanine with them. The dog found Turner in the creek. Turner would not complywith the deputies’ commands to surrender; so, the canine was ordered to attackTurner. Turner attempted to drown the dog, but eventually surrendered.




Trial Summary:


10/19/05          Indictedas follows:

                                    CountI:           First-Degree Murder

                                    CountII:         Attempted First-Degree Murder

                                    CountIII:        Grand Theft (Motor Vehicle)

                                    CountIV:        Home-Invasion Robbery

                                    CountV:         Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer

11/29/07          Juryreturned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment

12/05/07          Juryrecommended death by a vote of 10-2

04/24/08          Sentencedas follows:

                                    CountI:           First-Degree Murder – Death

                                    CountII:         Attempted First-Degree Murder – 30 years

                                    CountIII:        Grand Theft (Motor Vehicle) – 5 years

                                    CountIV:        Home-Invasion Robbery – Life in Prison

                                    CountV:         Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer – 15 years


Appeal Summary:


Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal

FSC# 08-975


05/27/08          Appealfiled

12/09/09          Oralarguments held

05/20/10          FSCaffirmed convictions and sentences

06/10/10          Mandateissued


United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ ofCertiorari

USSC# 10-6270         

131S.Ct. 426


08/20/10          Petition filed

10/18/10          Petition denied



Case Information:


On 05/27/08, Turner filed a Direct Appeal in the FloridaSupreme Court. He made the following claims: (1) double jeopardy; (2)cold, calculated premeditation aggravator; (3) death penalty isdisproportionate; (4) Ring v. Arizona; and (5) sufficiency of evidence.Oral arguments were held on 12/09/09. The Florida Supreme Court affirmedTurner’s convictions and sentences on 05/20/10. A mandate was issued on06/10/10.


Turner filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the UnitedStates Supreme Court on 08/20/10. This petition was denied on 10/18/10.








Report Date:   06/14/10          EMJ

Approved:       06/18/10          RM

Updated:         04/12/11          EMJ