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Monique Turenne: Found Guilty

Guilty of 2nd-degree murder of husband in Florida

Monique Turenne

PANAMA CITY, FL (AP) - A Winnipeg woman was found guilty Friday of second-degree murder for helping her former lover fatally bludgeon her husband, a Canadian air force officer serving in Florida.

Monique Turenne, 48, shook her head as the verdict was read after about three hours of deliberation

She faces a maximum sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole. A sentencing hearing is set for Aug. 2.

Major David Turenne's body was found in his front yard Feb. 9, 1996, face down in his own blood. He had been fatally beaten with a hammer or similar object that was never found.

"This is not about an accident," assistant state attorney Larry Basford told the jury.

"This is not a mistake. This is not a coincidence."

"This was a planned attack. This was murder."

Although the state had sought a first-degree murder conviction, which would have brought a life sentence with no parole, the jury agreed to the lesser-included charge of second-degree murder.

"We're pleased that this nine-year journey has resulted in Monique Turenne being held accountable for the betrayal and death of her husband," said State Attorney Steve Meadows.

Her sentence depends on a pre-sentence investigation and state sentencing guidelines that will be used by the judge. Meadows said he expects a sentence of more than 20 years.

David Turenne, 42, a computer expert, was assigned to the U.S.-Canadian North American Aerospace Defence Command at nearby Tyndall Air Force Base.

His sister, Nicky Stamler of Balmoral, Manitoba, was disappointed a first-degree murder conviction wasn't reached.

But Stamler added: "She's going to be an old lady when she comes out and I can't help but be satisfied with that."

Deputy public defender Walter Smith said it "wasn't unexpected" for the jury to agree on a lesser verdict. He also said the case is "rife with appellate issues" and he wanted an earlier sentencing date so he could start.

Smith disputed the prosecution's attempt to portray his client as a "master puppeteer" who lured her lover, Ralph Crompton, into killing her husband. He said Crompton was solely responsible for the death.

Crompton, 50, a retired U.S. air force master sergeant, already is serving a life term since being convicted of first-degree murder nearly nine years ago. Monique Turenne's trial was delayed as she went to Canada after her husband's death and then fought extradition attempts.

They were briefly reunited in a Florida courtroom Thursday, when Crompton refused to testify, saying he has a federal appeal pending and is afraid of the state. He also said Meadows asked him to lie to the grand jury that indicted Monique Turenne.

Prosecutors instead contended she set her husband up for the fatal beating by sending him out on a late-night errand so Crompton could jump him outside the house.

Meadows said her motive was to collect more than $600,000 in life insurance and other benefits or that she was angry with him for refusing to back her up in a neighbourhood squabble.

Smith argued even if she did set her husband up, she never intended for Crompton to kill him.

A son from a prior marriage, Daniel Paille, 20, offered another scenario he said occurred in the hours or minutes before his stepfather died.

"There was a man in the house who threatened my family with a knife," Paille said.

He said the man with a blond pony tail - Crompton is balding with dark, grey-streaked hair - demanded a briefcase. Paille acknowledge he had never told police about the alleged intruder. He said the only other time he told the story was to a reporter in Canada.

Monique Turenne had a second son with the victim, Michael Paille, 12, now living with his brother in Winnipeg.


Turenne trial is clear for takeoff
Judge denies motion to dismiss indictment in Canadian woman's first-degree murder case

Monique Turenne found guilty of 2nd-degree murder

We have news that the defence team is optimistic. Her fellow inmates took up a collection to buy clothes for her to wear to court.. They were expecting her charges to be dismissed today, but no such luck. Trial is going forward.
-- Sheila Steele, June 10, 2005

Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet found no misconduct Thursday on the part of Monique Turenne's prosecutors in their pursuit of a murder indictment against her.

He denied a motion to dismiss the indictment and cleared the way for next week's trial. Turenne, 48, a Canadian citizen, is charged with first-degree murder in the February 1996 death of her husband,

Canadian Air Force Maj. David Turenne, outside their Panama City home. David Turenne was beaten to death with a hammer.

Monique Turenne is to begin trial Monday and faces life in prison if convicted as charged of either directly killing her husband or being a principal to his murder.

Deputy Public Defender Walter Smith argued that the indictment in this case was "empty" because it was gained primarily through "perjurous" testimony of Turenne's co-defendant, Ralph Crompton.

Crompton, 50, was convicted in 1996 of first-degree murder in David Turenne's death and sentenced to life in prison. At trial, Crompton contradicted an earlier statement - a confession - he gave to police and claimed instead that Monique Turenne killed her husband.

Crompton had told police that Monique Turenne had nothing to do with the killing.

Crompton told the grand jury that he did not know for sure how David Turenne died, only that he was alive after their fight and when Crompton left the area. The prosecution contested that testimony at Crompton's trial - calling it "incredible" - but, Smith argued, allowed it to go to the grand jury unchallenged.

"They weren't fundamentally fair here," Smith said of prosecutors. "They went the most expeditious way to get an indictment."

Overstreet said he found Crompton's contradictory statements had been given to the grand jury, along with other testimony that has not been challenged by Smith.

Overstreet did ask prosecutor Larry Basford if he intended only to argue that Monique Turenne was a principal in her husband's murder and not the one who dealt the fatal blows. A principal to murder is one who might help facilitate a killing without actually participating in it.

Overstreet said there is case law that seems to prevent the prosecution from arguing that Turenne was the actual killer after proving at trial that Crompton was.

Basford would not concede that point to the judge.

"We have two people who worked together to cause the death of David Turenne," he said. "Both of them are equally guilty of first-degree murder."

Basford said Monique Turenne lured her husband outside to Crompton, who was waiting in the bushes.

He said it was a "matter of interpretation" as to whether Crompton's grand jury testimony had been adequately challenged by prosecutors.

Overstreet also addressed another request from Smith to dismiss the indictment because, Smith said, prosecutors lied to Canadian authorities about the charge against Turenne so they would extradite her.

Smith said in his motion that Turenne was originally charged with being an accessory after the fact to murder, a charge the Canadian government would not extradite for. He said prosecutors had to gain a murder indictment, by whatever means, to get Turenne back to Bay County.

Overstreet said the extradition package clearly showed that authorities were seeking to prosecute her for first-degree murder or principal to first-degree murder. He said there was nothing misleading in the extradition package either.

That would seem to do away with that motion, even though Overstreet did not dismiss it outright.

"In Mr. (Mike) Jones' investigative report he outlined a whole series of tems of evidence that might point to (Monique Turenne) as being a principal to the crime," Overstreet said.


Killer may testify for Turenne defense

Ralph Crompton

Convicted murderer Ralph Crompton has been Monique Turenne's most vocal accuser. He has testified for the state against Turenne.

But in Turenne's trial next week, Crompton might find himself testifying for the defense.

Turenne, 48, a Canadian citizen, is charged with first-degree murder in the February 1996 death of her husband, Canadian Air Force Major David Turenne, outside their Panama City home. David Turenne was beaten to death with a hammer.

Monique Turenne is to begin trial Monday and faces life in prison if convicted as charged of either directly killing her husband or being a principal to his murder.

Crompton, 50, was convicted in October 1996 of David Turenne's murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Crompton claims that he and Monique Turenne were having an affair. He admits fighting with David Turenne the morning of the murder but said at his trial that he did not kill Turenne.

During his arrest, police say, Crompton confessed to the murder and said Monique Turenne had nothing to do with it. Crompton says now - and said during his trial - that Monique Turenne was the one who dealt the fatal blows, and denies confessing.

Crompton testified for the grand jury that indicted Turenne in 1997. She had returned to Canada by that time and fought extradition until authorities returned her to Bay County in December.

Turenne's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Walter Smith, told Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet on Tuesday that he intends to call Crompton as a trial witness, even if prosecutor Larry Basford does not.

Basford did not say whether he would call Crompton but did tell Overstreet that the Department of Corrections should bring Crompton to Bay County early in the trial.

Basford prosecuted Crompton on the murder charge in 1996 and characterized Crompton's testimony then as a "lameduck excuse."

"It is one of about 100 (tales) that he's told in this case," Basford said then. "You decide how much weight should be given to his testimony."

Turenne's trial is expected to last all of next week, possibly into the weekend and the following week. Basford said he would need until Thursday at the latest to present his case. The defense will start Thursday afternoon or Friday if things go as expected.

Before testimony is presented, however, Overstreet and the lawyers will meet at least two more times to settle outstanding motions. They will argue on Thursday a motion to dismiss the indictment based on Smith's contention that prosecutors "invited" Crompton to lie to the 1997 grand jury.

"It is clear from the grand jury proceedings," Smith wrote in an amended motion filed Tuesday, "that the prosecution actually invited perjured testimony from Mr. Crompton. Specifically, the prosecution permitted Ralph Crompton to lie about his involvement in the murder of David Turenne; furthermore, the prosecutor allowed Mr. Crompton's testimony to go unchallenged, leaving the grand jury to believe that it was truthful."

Smith attached to the motion segments of Crompton's grand jury testimony, trial testimony and the prosecutor's closing argument in his trial. He pointed out that when prosecutor Steve Meadows, now state attorney, questioned Crompton for the grand jury, he made no effort to challenge testimony that months before Basford had "vehemently" attacked in his cross-examination of Crompton at trial.

In the segment that Smith attached to his motion, Crompton told grand jurors that he did not kill David Turenne.

"I did not do this," Crompton said. "I want justice to come. I want to find out the truth and I think I have. And Monique here and having her go through a trial, you might find out what the truth is and what happened after I left. But I sure can't figure it out. Every day I think about it and pray about it. And I don't know."

After that statement, Meadows asked the grand jurors if they had any questions for Crompton.

Meadows said Tuesday that Smith is basing his "speculation" on portions of the testimony presented to the grand jury.

"The job of the prosecutor is to bring all relevant witnesses in to the grand jury, favorable or unfavorable, so the grand jury is fully informed," he said. "I believe this grand jury was fully informed by all the witnesses, not just the bits and pieces Mr. Smith wishes to discuss. And after being fully informed the grand jury came to the conclusion that there was probable cause to charge Monique Turenne."

Meadows said, in general, there would be no reason to question a witness at a grand jury differently than in a criminal trial.

"We want to bring out all relevant evidence whether we're at trial or not at trial," he said.


The Sun is still at it: We strongly urged Monique Turenne to make a civil libel claim against the Sun papers and other news organizations which carried the lie that Crompton was her lover, a fact which she has always denied. Their acceptance of Pat Turenne's and Henry Thorimbert's lies has always been unwise. Monique Turenne's former sister-in-law and ex-husband have something to gain by spreading lies.

Lover to testify at Turenne's trial

Accused killer Monique Turenne will stand trial Monday for the 1996 death of her husband David, outside the couple's Panama City, Fla., home.

If convicted, Turenne, who grew up in St. Boniface, faces life in prison with no chance of parole, the same sentence handed her one-time lover, Ralph Crompton.

On Thursday, Judge Michael Overstreet rejected Turenne's motion to block Crompton's testimony at her trial. Deputy public defender Walter Smith alleged Crompton was guilty of perjury and should not be allowed to testify.

Crompton is expected to be the first prosecution witness followed by a pair of Winnipeg homicide detectives. Sergeants Jim Thiessen and Loren Schinkel interviewed Turenne hours before her husband's funeral in Winnipeg.

During the interview, Turenne admitted she set up David for a beating by Crompton, but claimed she did not want the air force major killed. During his trial, Crompton testified that during the struggle on the driveway with David, he was on his back. When David went limp, he looked up to see Monique standing with a claw hammer in her hand. The murder weapon has never been found.


Turenne's pretrial hearing set to begin
Motions in Canadian woman's murder trial will be addressed

Today begins what likely will be the homestretch in the Monique Turenne murder case, with a trial on the horizon and issues yet to be resolved.

Turenne, 48, a Canadian citizen, is charged with first-degree murder in the February 1996 death of her husband, Canadian Air Force Maj. David Turenne, outside their Panama City home. David Turenne was beaten to death with a hammer.

Monique Turenne is to begin trial next Monday. She has a pretrial hearing today where some issues will be addressed, but other motions may need to be resolved before the trial begins.
Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet has told defense lawyer Walter Smith and prosecutor Larry Basford they need to be ready to argue motions on short notice this week.

A Bay County grand jury indicted Monique Turenne in her husband's death in 1997. Turenne, who had returned home by that time, fought extradition until she was returned to Bay County in December.

In March, Smith asked Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet to grant the defense access to testimony used to gain the indictment. He said in his motion that the prosecution relied on the testimony of Turenne's co-defendant, Ralph Crompton, which the prosecution had depicted as lies during Crompton's trial.

Crompton was convicted in 1996 of first-degree murder in David Turenne's death. At one point, Crompton took responsibility for the murder and said Monique Turenne, with whom he claims he was having an affair, had nothing to do with it.

At his trial, Crompton changed his story and admitted fighting with David Turenne but claimed Monique Turenne dealt the fatal blows.

"During the trial the prosecution consistently portrayed Mr. Crompton as a liar," Smith said in his motion, "arguing to the jury that his testimony was unworthy of belief."

He included excerpts from Crompton's trial in which prosecutors called Crompton's testimony "incredible," "unbelievable" and "an incredibly unbelievable, irrational story because it is not true."

Smith had asked for the grand jury testimony to see if prosecutors Jim Appleman and Steve Meadows - the former and current state attorneys - relied on testimony they "knew or should have known" was false.

Overstreet granted Smith access to Crompton's grand jury testimony two weeks ago.

Smith said Monday he had read through the transcript and is prepared to amend his prior motion to include specifics he feels will support his argument. It's unlikely that Smith and Basford will argue the amended motion at today's hearing, but a time might be scheduled for later this week to address it.

Overstreet has had to rearrange his schedule to make himself available for next week's trial. The lawyers have arranged for the transportation and accommodations of witnesses, many from Canada. Smith said his office has already spent thousands of dollars in anticipation of next week's trial.

State Attorney spokesman Joe Grammer said the prosecution is ready for trial.

"We got witnesses coming in from far places," he said. "I'd hate to even say how much money is involved in bringing in the people we have to have".


Turenne's attorney strikes back

Monique Turenne's lawyer has filed another motion to dismiss the murder charge against her, this time claiming the prosecution misrepresented its case to Canadian officials in order to get them to extradite her.

Deputy Public Defender Walter Smith wrote in a motion this week that prosecutors have been claiming two theories about Canadian Air Force Maj. David Turenne's death in 1996.

Monique Turenne, 48, was indicted on a first-degree murder charge in 1997 in connection to her husband's death. She had returned home to Canada prior to the indictment and fought extradition for seven years until officials returned her to Bay County in December.

She faces life in prison if convicted as charged.

In Smith's motion, he states that the prosecution took Turenne's co-defendant, Ralph Crompton, to trial in 1996 claiming Crompton beat David Turenne to death with a hammer. During the trial, prosecutors repeatedly told jurors that Crompton was lying when he claimed that Monique Turenne was the killer, Smith wrote.

But Crompton's sworn statement naming Turenne the killer was included in an "extradition package" submitted by the State Attorney's Office in 1997 to Canadian authorities, Smith wrote.

"At no time does (then-State Attorney Jim) Appleman refer to Mr. Crompton's (other) statement that Monique Turenne had nothing to do with it, nor does he mention that his office vigorously asserted to a jury that Mr. Crompton was a liar whose testimony was unworthy of belief," Smith wrote.

Smith goes on to state that:

"After obtaining the indictment, the state misrepresented to the Canadian government that it was Ms. Turenne and not Mr. Crompton who actually beat David Turenne with a hammer. Now, after successfully exploiting the extradition process, the state must now revert to its 'Master-Mind' theory wherein it must argue in a manner consistent with the trial of her co-defendant that Mr. Crompton directly caused the death of David Turenne. Undoubtedly, the state will argue to the defendant's jury that she beguiled a naïve, lovestruck Ralph Crompton into murdering her husband for insurance money.

"Due process does not afford such elasticity to a theory of prosecution."

State Attorney spokesman Joe Grammer said he does not agree with Smith trying this case in the media.

"I find it interesting that he assumes he knows what the state's theory is," Grammer said. "This will be addressed in the appropriate time and the appropriate forum."

He said the state will pursue a case against Turenne that is in line with the wording of the indictment, that she "caused or contributed" to David Turenne's death.

Smith included about 100 pages of supporting documentation in his motion, including the extradition packet.

Crompton, in a sworn statement dated Dec. 19, 1997, said he drove from South Carolina to Panama City to meet Monique Turenne at her urging. He said the two had been involved in an affair for months preceding the murder.

Crompton said he was hiding outside the house when David Turenne confronted him. He said during their fight, Monique Turenne hit her husband from behind with a "hammer-like object." Crompton said the blow knocked David Turenne unconscious, but he was still alive when Crompton left.

David Turenne died from multiple blows to the head.

Also included with White's motion are transcripts of interviews Monique Turenne gave to Bay County and Canadian investigators.

In a Canadian interview dated Feb. 15, 1996, she was told that Crompton had been named the killer. She asked the official if he was sure and wondered aloud why Crompton, who she worked with, would have killed her husband. She denied any involvement.

The official asked Turenne if she was having an affair with Crompton and Turenne initially denied it. She then, according to the statement, acknowledged sleeping with Crompton once.

Bay County investigators originally charged Turenne with being an accessory after the fact to murder. Smith states in his motion that prosecutors had to charge her with first-degree murder because Canadian officials would not have extradited her otherwise.


Turenne granted access to testimony

Judge allowing Canadian woman's attorney to review 1997 grand jury witness statement to determine if prosecutors relied on evidence they knew was false

A judge on Tuesday granted Monique Turenne access to testimony to the 1997 grand jury that indicted her on a first-degree murder charge.

Grand jury testimony almost never is disclosed, but Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet will allow Turenne's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Walter Smith, to review one witness' testimony to see if prosecutors relied on evidence they knew was false.

A grand jury indicted Turenne of first-degree murder in the death of her husband, Canadian Air Force Maj. David Turenne, who was beaten to death outside their Panama City home on Feb. 9, 1996.

Monique Turenne, 48, a Canadian citizen, returned home shortly after her husband's death and some time before she was indicted. She fought extradition for seven years before being returned to Bay County in December.

Smith said he "has reason to believe that the testimony of Ralph Crompton was presented to the grand jury in an effort to obtain the indictment for first-degree murder.

"If so, defense counsel has further reason to believe that Ralph Crompton committed perjury before the grand jury; furthermore, both the (then) State Attorney Jim Appleman and his assistant Steven D. Meadows knew or should have known that the testimony was perjurious. Both attorneys advised the grand jury."

Smith said Meadows, who was elected state attorney in November, prosecuted Crompton along with Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford. Crompton, who claimed to be Monique Turenne's lover, was convicted of first-degree murder in October 1996 and sentenced to life in prison.

Crompton gave two different versions of David Turenne's death - saying at one time that Monique Turenne had nothing to do with it and then saying at trial that she delivered the fatal blows.

Grand jurors stated in the indictment that they believe Monique Turenne murdered her husband "by striking him with a blunt object."

"During the trial, the prosecution consistently portrayed Mr. Crompton as a liar," Smith said in his motion, "arguing to the jury that his testimony was unworthy of belief."

He included excerpts from Crompton's trial in which prosecutors called Crompton's testimony "incredible," "unbelievable" and "an incredibly unbelievable, irrational story because it is not true."

Overstreet reviewed a transcript of Crompton's grand jury testimony. He issued a written order Tuesday granting Smith's request. He gave prosecutor Larry Basford 10 days to look over the transcript and identify areas he feels are "extraneous or sensitive" and should be excluded before being turned over to Smith.

If Basford wants certain elements excluded he will have to argue those points to Overstreet.

Basford and Smith received the order at a hearing Tuesday morning. Both men told Overstreet that witnesses in Canada were not cooperating with the local investigation of the case.

Basford said Turenne gave interviews to media in Canada during her extradition fight that tells a different story, a "third version" of David Turenne's death. He told Overstreet that the journalists who conducted the interview will not agree to testify if he calls them to trial.

A United States subpoena has little legal weight in Canada.

Smith told Overstreet that phone records subpoenaed by the prosecution in 1996 - which could help his case - are not part of the state's discovery and no longer exist with the phone company. He said the prosecution only has turned over to him evidence that supports its case and nothing from "dead leads" that were pursued that could benefit Turenne.

The case is scheduled for trial in June. Overstreet said despite the complications he hopes the trial will take place as planned. He said he would schedule hearings after-hours every 48 hours if needed to resolve all the issues leading to trial.


Turenne's confession brought into question
Handwritten statement scrutinized in hearing preceding murder trial

One of the main reasons Monique Turenne is being prosecuted for murder - a handwritten "confession" taken by Canadian officials - came under fire Tuesday in one of the last hearings scheduled before her June trial.

Turenne, 48, is charged with first degree murder in the death of her husband, Canadian Air Force Maj. David Turenne, who was beaten to death with a hammer on Feb. 9, 1996, outside their Panama City residence. Monique Turenne returned home to Canada shortly after her husband's death and fought extradition from 1997, when she was indicted, until December, when she was returned to Bay County.

Monique Turenne is scheduled for trial June 13. She will have another pretrial hearing May 17.

The day before her husband's funeral, Canadian Air Force officials questioned her for at least seven hours and produced the only statement she has given that implies involvement in David Turenne's death. In it, Monique Turenne reportedly states that she arranged for Ralph Crompton to "rough up" David Turenne the night of Feb. 9, 1996, but she did not know it would lead to her husband's death.

Crompton was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1996 for his part in David Turenne's death. He claimed that he left David Turenne alive and it was Monique Turenne who delivered the fatal blows.

Monique Turenne's lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Walter Smith, has filed a motion to have the statement to Canadian officials excluded from trial.

Smith told Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet on Tuesday that he has seen photocopies of the handwritten statement and it does not look like it is Turenne's handwriting. Smith said he will see the original statement sometime next week.

Smith said the 12-page statement is supposed to be a verbatim recounting of the seven-hour interview, including the "er"s and "um"s that would be in a recorded statement. The interview was not captured on audio or videotape.

The statement also gives a motive for the killing. Smith said there is a convoluted scenario described in which Monique Turenne allegedly set her husband up to be beaten with a hammer because he would not take action when a neighborhood boy hit their son with a plastic hammer.

"She claims she didn't make those statements," Smith said after court. "The state has been trying to prosecute her based on a statement she claims she never gave."

After viewing the original, Smith said, he will have to contact the Canadian officers who interviewed Monique Turenne. That, in itself, could present problems.

There are numerous complications in this case because it crosses international borders. Smith said an American subpoena would carry little weight in Canada, and he probably cannot force officials there to talk to him.

In addition, American standards for interviewing suspects - rights guaranteed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona - do not apply in Canada. But for the statement to be admissible as evidence, it would have to meet the standards set forth in Miranda.

Once Smith and prosecutor Larry Basford see the original statement, a hearing will be scheduled to resolve the motion to suppress.

Overstreet told Turenne on Tuesday that her case is moving along fairly well but it might not be ready for trial in June.

One complication, which both sides expected in a 9-year-old case, is finding current addresses for witnesses. Smith said that has put him a month behind.