- Oct 18, 2007
- Reaction score
- East Coast - USA
- Political Leaning
WILMINGTON — A clothing store co-owner who took the law into his own hands and fatally shot a teen who had broken into his business and seriously wounded a second underage intruder, agreed to plead guilty today to manslaughter and a weapons charge.Lee A. Turner, 29, then co-owner of the Fly 365 stores in Wilmington and Dover, faces up to 50 years at sentencing in December but prosecutors have agreed to recommend no more than seven years of incarceration. He faces a minimum mandatory sentence of five years.
Turner had originally faced first-degree murder and attempted murder charges.
Deputy Attorney General Ipek Medford said today prosecutors agreed to the deal given the law and the facts of the case. Medford said prosecutors believe Turner was reckless, as defined by state law, on June 17, 2012, when he shot and killed 15-year-old Naj’m Hickmond and wounded an 11-year-old boy that was with Hickmond.
In addition, Turner was a convicted felon with a criminal record who was prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm. Turner, whose arrest record dated to when he was 14, had previously been convicted of aggravated menacing and weapons charges and several probation violations.
Because of court rules, prosecutors would not have been able to discuss Turner’s criminal background or the fact he was prohibited from having a gun with a jury had the case gone to trial as scheduled next month.
Medford said what happened at Turner’s Fly 365 store at 1510 W. Fourth St. around 5 p.m. was “a tragedy.”
Details of the shooting had been placed under seal by police and prosecutors at the time of Turner’s arrest. But in court today, Medford said there had been a string of burglaries at the Wilmington Fly 365 in the weeks and days leading up to the shooting, including several times on June 17, 2012. The store had been closed for several months but there were still clothes and other items inside.
Medford said Turner had been in New Jersey when he heard about the burglaries and returned to Wilmington.
When he was inside the West Fourth Street store cleaning up the mess burglars had left behind when they ransacked it, a group of people who had burglarized the business earlier in the day returned and broke in again through the back entrance, Medford said.
Turner reacted by killing one and shooting a second. “The defendant Lee Turner was reckless in his assessment of the necessity to use deadly force,” Medford told the judge.
It was unclear if the two boys were inside the store or outside the store when they were shot.
According to the unsealed affidavit of probable cause, Hickmond was shot once in the back and the 11-year old was shot twice in the mid-section and survived. Court papers indicate a group of at least five others could be seen on video fleeing from the scene.
The affidavit indicates Turner also fled the scene without calling police.
Turner’s attorney, Michael Heyden, said Turner had been surprised by the two intruders and is “very remorseful,” for what happened.
Heyden acknowledged his client had a criminal past but said he had turned his life around, was a father of two and had become a productive and valuable member of the community, having opened two clothing stores and secured contracts with several big name companies. Turner even led a coat drive in 2010 with United Way of Delaware and Delaware State University on the first anniversary of opening his Dover location.
Turner, dressed in a while prison clothes, did not speak in court beyond answering yes-or-no questions and admitting to the charges of manslaughter and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
Superior Court Judge William C. Carpenter Jr. accepted the guilty pleas, ordered a pre-sentence investigation and set Turner’s sentencing for December 6.
The shootings happened during a particularly violent week in Wilmington in 2012 where four people in the city were killed by gunfire over a five-day period, prompting calls for action from the community for a stepped-up police presence.
Is this the right way to proceed here?
Was it self defense?
Defending one's property?
Or is the fact that the shooter had a criminal past with restrictions against owning a gun all that matters?
Shot in back? Maybe not even inside store?