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Travis Turner sentenced to life, $10K fine for murder of Jennifer Rose Garrett

by Lori Dunn | February 6, 2023 at 3:37 p.m. | Updated February 7, 2023 at 9:37 a.m.

NEW BOSTON, Texas — A Bowie County jury Monday sentenced Travis Turner to life in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

The jury also gave Turner a $10,000 fine. The jury deliberated about 30 minutes before returning with the sentence. Judge John Tidwell informed Turner of his right to appeal his sentence and printed Turner’s name on it. Turner told Tidwell he did not want to sign the appeal document.

Turner was found guilty of murder Friday in the death of his girlfriend, Jennifer Rose Garrett.

In a victim impact statement, Garrett’s mother, Michelle Garrett, called Turner a “wolf in sheep’s clothes” after her family opened their home to him.

In opening remarks Monday, First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp thanked the jury for Friday’s verdict and told them the district attorney’s office is asking for a life sentence for Turner.

“We are going to ask you to put him in a penitentiary for the rest of his life,” Crisp said. “He has had chances over and over, and look at what he did with it,” Crisp said. “Jennifer Garrett bonded him out of jail, and she paid the price for it.”

Bowie County Public Defender Bart Craytor urged the jury to consider a lesser sentence of 15 to 20 years.

He described Turner’s behavior as “a cry for help” and reminded jurors the United States is a country of second chances. He said Turner had been polite with him.

Monday’s sentencing decision came after a day where tensions ran very high in the courtroom.

During a brief break before closing arguments, some of Turner’s family members and Garrett’s friends exchanged words after supporters of Turner laughed in the courtroom.

Tidwell ordered silence and said if he needed to clear the courtroom he would. He also told deputies to immediately remove anyone who caused any disturbance.

Earlier in the day, Tidwell cleared the courtroom after Turner began talking and mumbling during a witness’ testimony. Turner continued to talk after being reprimanded by Tidwell several times.

“Mr. Turner, it is imperative you be quiet. If you don’t remain composure I will have you removed,” Tidwell said. Tidwell dismissed the jury and then the courtroom. When court reconvened, Turner was no longer in the courtroom.

A short time later, Tidwell again sent the jury out and asked bailiffs to bring Turner back into the courtroom.

“I’m going to give him another chance to be part of the process,” Tidwell said.

When Turner was brought back in, Tidwell again asked if Turner could be silent.

“I’m going to ask you again. Are you willing to be silent and assist your counsel?”

“No,” Turner replied.

After Turner said no, he was taken out of the courtroom again.

Tidwell tried again to bring Turner back into the courtroom after lunch. The judge told Turner he could stay if he remained silent. Turner once again said “no.”

“You are choosing to remove yourself from your trial?” Tidwell asked.

Turner replied that he was and was again escorted out of the courtroom.

He was only brought back into the courtroom for sentencing. In closing arguments, Craytor said Turner had “met his limit.”

Turner’s talking and mumbling began Monday morning as Miller County Detention Center jailer Richard Henderson testified about an altercation he had with Turner in the jail in March 2021.

Turner “bowed up at him” in the jail, and Henderson believed Turner was going to hit him.

“I swung first and we tussled around. He threw punches, I threw punches,” Henderson testified. At one point Henderson tripped and said Turner “attempted to put me in a headlock.”

Turner was sent to the hospital, where he received eight stitches in the leg and was treated for a broken nose, Henderson said.

Henderson testified the incident was reviewed and it was determined he did not violate any policy.

Carlotta Powell, director of Southwest Arkansas Counseling Center’s River Ridge facility, testified about Turner being treated at the center for marijuana and alcohol abuse. She said Turner’s mother paid for his stay there. Powell testified Turner had family therapy at the facility and Garrett was the one person who attended therapy with him.

Powell testified Turner would “turn on charm” for women at the facility but bullied the men.

“They were afraid of him. We had several complaints of bullying,” Powell testified.

She testified he would curse the staff because he “did not think rules applied to him.”

Earlier Monday, Texarkana Arkansas Police Department Detective Shane Kirkland testified that Turner was identified as the suspect in the 2021 shooting of Ferg Daniels on Beech Street in Texarkana, Arkansas.

Under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards, Kirkland testified Turner was charged with seven counts of terroristic acts and one count of second-degree battery. Both are felonies, and the charges are still pending against Turner in Arkansas in connection with the shooting, Kirkland testified.

Nathaniel Johnson, a captain in the Bi-State jail, testified that Turner’s behavior in jail made things difficult for staff.

“It puts us at risk,” Johnson testified. He said moving Turner in the jail usually required between five and seven jailers.

Gary Whiteside, a transport officer for Bowie County, also testified about Turner being combative as recently as Friday when he was convicted.

Crisp said she saw blood on Whiteside’s shirt during a pretrial hearing and Whiteside said that was correct.

Whiteside testified that after Friday’s verdict, Turner became combative while waiting on the elevator and cursed him.

“He did not like that I was holding onto him. I had to use force and put him against the wall,” Whiteside said.

The last witness for the prosecution was Jennifer Garrett’s mother, Michelle Garrett. Garrett cried as she talked about her daughter. But her voice was also full of pride when she spoke of how accomplished her daughter was and how giving she was.

“Her nephews called her AJ for Aunt Jen, and she was like a second mama to them and to a lot of her friend’s children. There were so many people who loved her. All of her friends thought they were her best friend, and every one of them was,” Michelle Garrett said.

Prior to court starting Monday, Tidwell announced a juror had contacted the bailiff at 7 a.m. Monday morning because they had become sick over the weekend. Tidwell said that juror had been excused and replaced with an alternate juror.


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