A Bedford County man who admitted to bludgeoning his father to death with a 5-pound wood maul was sentenced Wednesday to

10 to 40 years in a state prison facility equipped to treat him for what was described as severe mental illness.

Harold I. Turner, 31, of Clearville, told a psychiatrist with Bedford-Somerset Mental Health that he killed his father, Harold L. Turner, 60, nearly two years ago because voices told him to do it.

In a report given to the court,

Dr. Suresh Rajan said Harold Turner is severely mentally disabled and in need of long-term psychiatric treatment.

Susan Turner, the defendant’s mother, told the court Wednesday that as late as Tuesday when she visited her son in the Bedford County Jail, he told her the voices were still talking to him.

“He’s still tormented with the voices, even though he is on his medication,” Susan Turner told Judge Daniel Howsare.

The defendant pleaded guilty in July to third-degree murder. His sentencing was set for September, but delayed two times because of difficulty in getting the mental-health evaluation.

Harold Turner used the maul to kill his father in March 2008 in an incident which showed no indication of provocation or premeditation, defense attorney Lesley Childers said.

“The voices he heard told him to do that. Nothing was premeditated. Mr. Turner did not decide to do this on his own,” Childers said.

Following the murder, Harold Turner took $400 and fled the state in the family car. He was taken into custody later in the day in Akron, Ohio, after turning himself in to authorities.

Susan Turner told the judge that while no amount of time will bring her husband back, she still wants to make sure her son is adequately treated while in confinement.

She asked Howsare to include in his sentencing order that medication be used judiciously.

“Since he was 15, I’ve seen time after time the medication has caused him to go berserk,” she said.

But Howsare said his role is to address sentencing for the criminal act.

He told Susan Turner that the state would provide psychiatrists and treatments for her son.

Bedford County District Attorney William Higgins asked Howsare to sentence Turner to a minimum of

10 years in a prison facility with the much longer term of 40 years in the event treatment is not successful.

“It could happen again. There has to be some protection for society,” Higgins said. “The illness he has appears to be something he has had for some time and something he may be dealing with for the rest of his life.”

Howsare termed the case as a “very sad situation and one that is hard to deal with adequately. ... It’s a tragic situation.”

Howsare gave Harold Turner credit for time served, which means he could be free in eight years.

When questioned by the defendant for details on how long he will serve, Howsare said when the minimum is served his mental condition will be evaluated by the state board of parole, which will decide if he can be released.

Following the sentencing, Higgins said that if Harold Turner does not show significant improvement he could serve the full 40 years.

Then, at the age of 71, if an evaluation shows no improvement he could be committed to a facility by way of a civil action.

Trending Video

Recommended for you