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Murder trial set to start Jan. 31

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Posted: Friday, January 21, 2011 12:00 pm

By Philip Jankowski

Killeen Daily Herald

BELTON - Kris Michael Lewis Turnbull, the 20-year-old man accused of murdering a dispatcher at a Nolanville taxi company in 2009, was at times laughing and at other times apologetic during a pre-trial hearing Thursday.

The proceeding was likely be the last major hearing before Turnbull's capital murder trial later this month.

Turnbull has been charged with capital murder in connection with the September 2009 shooting death of 33-year-old Harker Heights resident Timothy Manning and the robbery of Express Cab just outside Nolanville.

The trial is slated to begin Jan. 31.

Turnbull filed several motions without the consultation of his lawyers, including a motion for his counsel to be removed.

Turnbull's lead counsel, Stephen Blythe, asked 264th District Judge Martha Trudo on Thursday to allow him to withdraw from the case.

Blythe said Turnbull's motions included accusations about the defense that may create conflicts in defending him.

"Because of the allegations he has made, we have been put in the position of defending ourselves from Mr. Turnbull while defending him as well," Blythe said.

Blythe is the second lawyer to represent Turnbull since he was arrested. Turnbull fired the previous counsel.

Turnbull apologized personally to Blythe and co-counsel when questioned by Trudo.

"I didn't word it really good in my motions," Turnbull said. "It's not that they're not doing their jobs ... I just wanted to make sure they weren't just sitting around doing nothing."

Trudo ruled against both Blythe and Turnbull's motions, paving the way for the trial to go ahead on schedule.

After clearing up issues with representation, the defense team moved to suppress a surveillance video from Express Cab that caught the shooting on tape. The video depicts Turnbull shooting Manning in the back of his head, according to an arrest report.

Blythe argued authorities improperly handled the video. He stated there were instances where no one could account for its whereabouts at the Bell County Sheriff's Office.

At the sheriff's office, the owner of Express Cab and a taxi driver both identified Turnbull as the shooter depicted in the video, deputies testified.

An arrest report states Turnbull can be seen in the video pacing behind Manning before shooting him. Turnbull then stole a box containing cab fares and fled the business, the report states.

Turnbull worked as a mechanic at Express Cab. He was not employed there at the time of Manning's murder.

Contact Philip Jankowski at philipj@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.

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