Checotah Family Fights Parole Of Man Convicted In Poisoning Death

Friday, August 17th 2012, 7:09 pm
By: News On 6

A Checotah family has spent the past ten years fighting the parole of a killer, and they were back at it again this week.

Danny Turner was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his classmate, Jerry Don Hurst, in 1991.

Hurst's family said the whole process keeps their wounds raw.

Turner stole potassium cyanide from a school chemistry lab and poured it into a drink and gave it to Jerry Hurst, who - not knowing it was spiked - drank it and died.

Jerry's family said, even now, more than 20 years later, Turner refuses to take responsibility for his crime.

Jerry Don Hurst grew up in Checotah. He was a hard worker, who liked to hang out with friends after school, and who had a real talent for welding. He even won a state Vo-Tech competition.

He was just two weeks into his senior year, when a boy he considered to be a friend, Danny Turner, poisoned him.

Turner stole potassium cyanide from a school lab, put it in a drink and handed Jerry Don.

Jerry's sister said he took a drink, spit it out, and went to rinse out his mouth, but it was too late.

That was 1991 and Turner was sentenced to life.

Ten years later, he began coming up for parole, and Jerry's family began fighting it with letters.

This year, they had to testify in person.

Even now, they said he is not admitting guilt, telling the parole board that he didn't know that what he stole was a deadly poison.

"They say he took responsibility, but he didn't admit what the other kids testified to: that they did discuss this and he knew it would kill someone,' Jerry Don's sister, Delicia said.

Delicia said the parole board members weren't very nice to her family and made them feel as if they were in the wrong, but seemed to go out of their way to be kind to the convicted killer, who appeared on a live video feed. She said they even moved the camera so he could see his supporters.

"They scanned the audience and said, ‘Look Danny, look at all the people here to support you.' They actually said, ‘Everybody, stand up so Danny can see who's here to support him,'" Delicia said. "We didn't feel like we were able to heal."

She said she supports the 85 Percent Rule, which requires people convicted of violent crimes to serve 85% of their sentence before being considered for parole.

Had it been in place when her brother was murdered, Turner wouldn't even come up for parole for another 18 years, but this way, they must fight his release on a regular basis.

The parole board must decide around 600 cases a month in a three-day time period.

The board voted three to two, to deny Turner's parole at this time.

However, Jerry Don's family was told Friday that decision won't be final until next Tuesday, and the board could change its decision between now and then.