DA to seek death sentence for serial killer already on Death Row

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Prosecutors today said they planned to seek the death penalty for a man already on death row for killing 10 women and now charged with killing four other women. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli ordered Chester Turner, 46, to return to court Nov. 14 for a pretrial hearing.

Turner — who was sentenced to death in 2007 for murdering 10 women between 1987 and 1998 — was charged last year with murdering four women between 1987 and 1997. The newest charges involve the deaths of Debra Williams, who was found dead Nov. 16, 1992, at the bottom of a stairwell that leads to a boiler room at 97th Street School, and Mary Edwards, who was found dead Dec. 16, 1992, in a carport outside a motel at 9714 S. Figueroa St., less than a quarter-mile from the school where Williams’ body was discovered.

He also is charged with the June 5, 1987, slaying of Elandra Bunn and the Feb. 22, 1997, killing of Cynthia Annette Johnson. Turner, an Arkansas native, was described by prosecutors as the city of Los Angeles’ most prolific serial killer when he was sentenced to death in July 2007.

In addition to his death sentence, Turner was sentenced to a separate 15- year-to-life term for the second-degree murder of the unborn baby of one of his victims, Regina Washington, who was found dead in September 1989.

Along with Washington’s slaying, Turner was convicted in April 2007 of first-degree murder for the killings of:

– Diane Johnson, who was found dead in March 1987 and is not related to Cynthia Johnson;
— Annette Ernest, who was found dead by a passing motorist in October 1987;
— Anita Fishman, who was killed in January 1989;
— Andrea Tripplett, who was 5 1/2 months pregnant with her third child when she was strangled in April 1993. Turner was not charged with killing her unborn child because it was not considered viable under the law in place at that time.
— Desarae Jones, who was killed in May 1993;
— Natalie Price, whose body was found outside a home in February 1995;
— Mildred Beasley, whose body was found in a field in November 1996;
— Paula Vance, who was strangled in February 1998, during the commission of a rape, which was caught on a grainy black-and-white surveillance videotape in which the assailant’s face cannot be seen; and
— Brenda Bries, who was found dead in the Skid Row area in April 1998.

Turner lived within 30 blocks of each of the killings — with Bries’ body discovered in downtown Los Angeles just 50 yards from where he was living at the time, according to prosecutors. Turner was linked to those killings through DNA test results after being arrested and convicted of raping a woman in the Skid Row area in 2002.

After Turner was sent to death row, detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division continued to investigate the four murders with which he has since been charged.

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