An order to bring murder suspect Monique Turenne back to Bay County has been stalled with the Canadian minister of justice for three years, the victim's sister says.
But a meeting this week between the Canadian and U.S. departments of justice might bring Turenne, 45, closer to standing trial for the 1996 murder of her husband, Canadian Air Force Maj. David Turenne.
David Turenne, 42, was beaten to death outside his Panama City home on Feb. 9, 1996. Monique Turenne was charged along with Ralph Edward Crompton, 47, with first-degree murder. Crompton was sentenced to life in prison in October 1996 for his part in the killing.
"I applaud the U.S. judicial system. They had (Crompton) arrested and prosecuted within six months," Pat Turenne, David's eldest sister, said Monday.
Pat Turenne, of Tyndall, Manitoba, said she's frustrated with her government's handling of Monique Turenne's extradition.
"I don't have much faith in the system anymore," she said. Pat Turenne said the Canadian government received the indictment in January 1998.
She said the extradition went through the proper steps until landing on the desk of the minister of justice in October 1999.
"Since then, we've just been sitting here," Pat Turenne said. "I can't understand the Canadian government allowing the alleged killer of a Canadian citizen to escape justice.
"There's a process here, but it's a ridiculous process."
She said the next step can't begin until the minister of justice makes a decision. Pat Turenne said she sent another group of letters to the appropriate officials last week urging them to push the case along.
"All we can do is just keep hounding people," she said. "But we're still looking at a horrendous amount of time before this is resolved."
Since his trial, Crompton has maintained that David Turenne was alive when he left him the morning of the killing. Crompton said he was having an affair with Monique Turenne and she manipulated him into fighting with David Turenne outside his Longwood Circle home.
Turenne had been a supervisor with Tyndall Air Force Base's NORAD Software Support Facility.
Crompton said Monique Turenne killed her husband with several blows to the head with a hammer after he'd left.
Pat Turenne said: "There's no doubt in my mind that she's the instigator. She assisted in the perpetration of this crime and she should be standing accountable."
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, officials on both sides of the border will meet this week to discuss various issues. One of those might be Monique Turenne's extradition, one official said.
A spokesperson for the Justice Department did not return calls Monday for additional information on this meeting.
Since 1996, local officials have been optimistic about the extradition process and have said throughout the years that Monique Turenne was a step closer to being returned.
"The problem is," State Attorney Jim Appleman said, "we don't know how many steps there are."
The first step, he said, was waiving the death penalty. Turenne would face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.
"They wouldn't even consider extradition if she faced the death penalty," Appleman said.
He said he isn't worried that the case will weaken as time goes on. After six years, some witnesses would probably have moved to other areas and memories might have weakened.
Appleman said most of the evidence is in the form of crime scene materials and documented lab work.
"Most of the witnesses in the case were law enforcement officers or lab officials," he said. "After six years, I think the case is just as strong."
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Lawyers for a Winnipeg woman who faces extradition to Florida to face charges she murdered her husband have asked federal Justice Minister Anne McLellan to seize jurisdiction over the case and hold the trial in Canada.
Monique Turenne was indicted in Florida for the 1996 beating death of her husband, Canadian Armed Forces Maj. David Turenne. She is currently in Winnipeg fighting a deportation order.
In an unusual legal manoeuvre, Turenne's lawyers will argue the federal Justice Department should have assumed jurisdiction for the case because the victim was a member of the Canadian military and because his wife was charged with the crime.
Tony Dalmyn, who is defending Turenne along with criminal lawyer Greg Brodsky, said U.S. military police did some preliminary investigation in Florida, and it is believed Canadian military police carried out an investigation of their own. Furthermore, Turenne was not arrested and charged with the crime until after she returned to Winnipeg.
"We have a Manitoba victim, we have a Manitoba suspect involved in what is allegedly a Manitoba domestic dispute," Dalmyn said. "Why can't Manitoba try it?"
The murder case is the stuff of pulp novels. David Turenne, on assignment at a U.S. Air Force base in Panama City, Fla., was found beaten to death in the driveway of their suburban bungalow on Feb. 9, 1996. Police were unable to find any evidence pointing to the murderer or motive for the crime. No murder weapon has been found. Five days after the murder, Monique Turenne returned to Winnipeg on a military aircraft with her children and husband's body.
A week after David Turenne's body was found, and acting on a tip from an acquaintance of Monique's, police arrested retired U.S. Air Force Sgt. Ralph Crompton and charged him with the murder. Crompton claimed to have had an affair with Monique Turenne. Crompton, now serving life in a Florida prison for the murder, said he was lured to the Turenne home on the night of the murder but it was Monique who bludgeoned David Turenne with a hammer.
The night before David Turenne's funeral, as Panama City police were arresting Crompton, Winnipeg police interrogated Monique Turenne. Police later released a statement in which she confessed to the affair but not the murder. Turenne would later claim that statement was fabricated by police.
Turenne now denies any sexual relationship with Crompton. In an interview with the Free Press last year, Turenne said the night David was murdered, she and her sons were held hostage by an unknown man with a pony tail. She had never revealed this scenario to police in Florida or Winnipeg before it was published in the Free Press.
The suggestion the trial be moved to Canada has been decried by David Turenne's family. Pat Turenne, David's sister, said the strategy is nothing more than the latest in a series of a desperate attempts to delay extradition.
Turenne said McLellan's unwillingness to honour Canada's extradition treaty with the United States is shattering her family's faith in the Canadian justice system. "How long are they going to allow this to continue?" she said.
Dalmyn said Canadian military law includes provisions for Canada to hold a trial -- either before a military tribunal, or civil court -- under these circumstances. Because the crime was committed in 1996, it is no longer possible to try the case before a military tribunal because of a three-year statute of limitation.
The federal government usually wants to try its military representatives at home, even if the crime was committed abroad, Dalmyn said. Furthermore, it is unclear why the federal government would waste time and money to enforce an extradition order when it would have been much simpler, and perhaps less expensive, to hold the trial in Canada, he added.
Although Monique Turenne in no way admits guilt for the murder, or wishes to face these charges, she would rather see the case unfold in the Canadian justice system because publicity surrounding the case may prevent her from getting a fair trial in Florida, Dalmyn said.