Both families cope with grief during trial

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 28, 2005

The trial of Carlos Jenkins lasted four days, but for two families it probably seemed like a lifetime - or a very bad dream.

Both the family of the victim, John Turvey, and the family of the accused, Carlos Jenkins, attended this week's trial. They sat apart in the courtroom during testimony and huddled in separate corners of the third floor during recesses.

While family members remained calm, the tension of what was happening was evident on their faces.

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"I just don't think it's hit any of us yet," John Turvey's sister, Shirley Turvey said. "I think the healing won't begin until after the trial is over."

The sisters remembered their brother with affection and agonize over the way he died. "He was a good-hearted, loving, kind person," Willodene Webb said of her brother, John.

The women remembered their brother as a frail, sickly man who nearly died from cancer only a short time before his death, only to be gunned down in his home, most likely over the drugs he kept locked away in a tackle box beside the sofa.

They are emphatic: They believe Carlos Jenkins indeed is guilty of killing their brother. "They got the right person, no doubt," Shirley Turvey said. "No doubts about that."

"Honest to God, he should get life (in prison)," Beverly Robinson said. "I don't believe in capital punishment but honest to God, he should get life."

Meanwhile, at the other end of the corridor, another family was just as emphatic: Their brother did not kill John Turvey.

"This has not been an easy week," said Larry Jenkins, Carlos Jenkins' brother. "We've been in court too much this week."

Larry Jenkins and other family members contended their brother is a gullible individual who could account for his whereabout the morning of the murder and who was browbeaten by authorities into a confession he has since recanted. They say the brother they know is a good guy at heart, rather slow, mentally, but not a danger to anyone.

"It is difficult seeing him like this." Larry Jenkins said, adding that he does not want to see his brother pay for a crime he didn't do.

Both families worried about what effect the trial would have on their elderly mothers: Eula Turvey and Shirley Jenkins, both attended the trial every day.

When autopsy photographs were presented the second day of the trial, many of the Turvey family members cried. One sister whispered to another "How's Mom doing?"

Larry Jenkins said it has been hard to explain to the young children in the family where Carlos is, and why.

"My little boy said to me the other day 'Daddy, Uncle Carlos wouldn't do nothing like that.'" Little Larry Jenkins is 7 year old.

John Turvey's son, John Jr., a 10th grader at Rock Hill High School, had to take the witness stand and tell about leaving his father's home the morning of the murder, and seeing the man accused of murdering his dad walking along the roadway near the Turvey residence as the young man was riding on a school bus.

The Turvey sisters said young John and son, David, seem to be holding up as well as can be expected.

Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier said in his closing statement that the trial was "longer than he had anticipated."

For both families, the trial no doubt seemed interminable.

"I don't think it could get any worse," Robinson said. "Nothing will bring John back, now the person who did this needs to be punished."

In the words of Jenkins' sister, Ellen Hamilton, "This week has been horrible."