By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON - It took a Bell County jury about 50 minutes to convict Kris Michael Lewis Turnbull, 20, of capital murder Wednesday afternoon.
The conviction triggered an automatic sentence of life without the possibility of parole.
The jury of seven men and five women convicted Turnbull in the Sept. 26, 2009, murder of Timothy Manning at a taxicab business just outside of Nolanville.
Turnbull showed little emotion during the sentencing and slowly rocked in his chair while Manning's wife and the mother of his four children confronted him following the sentence.
"The joke's on you," Kimberly Dodge Manning said to Turnbull. "We're all going to be in heaven with him (Manning), and you'll be burning in hell. Have a nice life."
A surveillance video of the killing played a pivotal role in the trial. The defense repeatedly attempted to strike any mention of the video and its contents from proceedings; however, the jury was permitted to watch the video twice during the trial.
Two witnesses with close relationships to Turnbull identified the shooter in the video as him. Turnbull could be seen in the video pacing behind Manning for several minutes before pointing a black pistol at the back of Manning's head and firing.
Assistant Bell County District Attorney Mike Waldman repeatedly referred to Turnbull as a coward during closing arguments.
"A good man's life was taken by a coward," Waldman said, pointing at Turnbull. "A coward who didn't show Manning his gun. A coward that didn't confront him to his face."
Defense attorney Stephen Blythe attempted to undermine the prosecution by pointing out the lack of forensic evidence connecting Turnbull to the shooting.
No fingerprints, blood or DNA were located on several items the prosecution connected to Manning's murder, including Turnbull's clothes and a gun ballistics tests matched as the same gun used in the shooting.
Turnbull's brother, Kyle Turnbull, said the verdict was based on circumstantial evidence.
"I believe Kris is not capable of shooting someone in the back of the head," Kyle Turnbull said, when contacted in Montana. "It is purely circumstantial until that video. I personally don't believe it is true."
Turnbull's offense was elevated to capital murder because he stole money from the owner's office of Express Cab after the shooting. Blythe attempted to disconnect the murder from the robbery, telling the jury Turnbull did not rob Manning; he robbed the business.
Waldman told the jury the two offenses were connected because at the time, Manning, who worked as a manager and dispatcher at Express Cab, had more ownership of the property stolen at the time of the offense than Turnbull.
Turnbull immediately kicked in an adjacent office door after shooting Manning. He stole about $1,000 in cash from the office and fled in a stolen taxi.
Turnbull has one month to appeal his conviction.
Contact Philip Jankowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.