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Opening statements begin in death penalty trial in Baton Rouge

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BATON ROUGE - Opening statements began today in a high profile murder trial where the death penalty is at stake.

According to prosecutors, Lee Turner murdered Edward Gurtner and Randy Chaney in March of 2011, during a robbery. Prosecutors claim he did it to eliminate any witnesses to his crime. Following the murders, prosecutors said in opening statements that Turner went candy shopping at the mall for an upcoming baby shower, then passed by the scene to watch investigators complete their work at the murder scene. 

In court, the 911 tape was played after Edward Gurtner's wife found her husband's body on the floor of the store. Randy Chaney's wife, Lola Chaney also recalled how she realized something wasn't right when her husband didn't come home from work, then she saw detectives from the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office pull up on her driveway to give her the news.

"I knew something bad had happened," Chaney said as she fought back tears.

In court, we learned one of the victims was running away, when Turner allegedly shot him down.

Listening to exactly what transpired was particularly unsettling to the victims' families, but also for Turner's mother.

"I wish I could hug the family and tell them I'm sorry," Melissa Falls, Lee Turner's mother said. "I just wish I could change it."

Turner's mother said her son has never been in trouble before and to hear what he is accused of doing is deeply disturbing. She is praying for closure and hoping the jury decides to spare her son's life, if they find him guilty of murdering the two men.

"I don't believe in the death penalty for no one, not just my son," Falls said. "I feel like God gives life and no man has a right to take a life, so do I want them to kill my son.... no not at all."

If the jury convicts Turner, they must make a unanimous decision to send him to death row.


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