• August 20, 2014

Courts see fair share of high-profile trials

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Posted: Wednesday, December 30, 2009 12:00 pm | Updated: 8:06 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Jade Ortego

Killeen Daily Herald

Several high-profile Bell County criminal cases made headlines during the past year, ranging from the killing of a taxicab dispatcher in Nolanville to the molestation conviction of a Little League baseball coach.

Also this year, convicted murderer Richard Lee Tabler continued to make headlines by smuggling a cell phone into prison and making threatening phone calls.

In other cases, a woman sits in prison on charges that she hired two friends to kill her ex-boyfriend for life insurance money, and a man was given 60 years in prison for beating and raping a woman in the parking lot of a downtown Killeen business.

Kris Michael Lewis Turnbull

On Sept. 28, a man walked into the Express Cab Company in Nolanville, shot a cab dispatcher in the back of the head, killing the father of four, and stole a drop-off box containing cab fares.

Employees identified Kris Michael Lewis Turnbull, 19, a former employee, in a hidden surveillance camera video that captured the robbery.

Turnbull was jailed on a $1 million bond, and he was charged with capital murder, punishable by death or life imprisonment. A trial date has not been set.

Richard Lee Tabler

In May, a Polk County grand jury indicted condemned murderer Richard Lee Tabler and two relatives on charges of possessing contraband, i.e., a cell phone, in a state prison.

Tabler is on death row for the killing of two men in Killeen in 2004. His mother and sister, both of Salado, were charged with paying for the minutes on the smuggled phone.

Tabler also was indicted on charges of retaliation for allegedly threatening to kill state Sen. John Whitmire of Houston.

William Thomas Jacobsen

In a 27-minute deliberation, a jury found Jacobsen guilty of continuously molesting members of a Little League baseball team he coached, and Judge Joe Carroll of the 27th District Court sentenced him to life in prison in July.

During his trial, two victims testified that Jacobsen, 32, of Little River-Academy, threatened to harm them or their family members if they told anyone about the abuse.

Jacobsen and his wife, Marilyn Wesson, had fled Texas four days before his arrest warrant and were found by U.S. Marshals in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

"I was hopeful he would get life, but you never expect anything. Jacobsen will spend the rest of his miserable life in prison where he belongs," said prosecuting attorney Leslie McWilliams in July.

Kathryn Nellie Briggs

Kathryn Nellie Briggs, aka Airianna Benitez, 27, was indicted in May on a capital murder charge involving the death of her ex-boyfriend, Staff Sgt. Ryan Michael Sullivan.

Briggs is accused of paying for soldiers Kyle James Moesch, 23, and John Anthony Valdez Jr., 24, to kill Sullivan in order to obtain money from his life insurance policy.

Moesch and Valdez were charged with capital murder in February.

Jamaal Larome Green

On Dec. 1, Jamaal Larome Green, 27, of Killeen, a married father of four, was sentenced to 60 years in prison for violently raping and beating a woman for several hours on Oct. 28 in the parking lot of a dry-cleaning business on Gilmer Street.

Both Green and the victim took the witness stand at his trial. He maintained his innocence, and described a brief evening of sex for money.

The victim told the court that she attempted to have sex with Green, but he couldn't become aroused until after she attempted to leave and he grabbed her and started slamming her into the concrete.

"You would agree that the person with her was a sexual deviant? That someone who beat someone this bad and was excited about it should be punished for it for a long time?" prosecuting attorney Shelly Strimple asked Green at his sentencing. "That's a scary person, isn't it?"

Contact Jade Ortego at jortego@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7553.

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