Lee Turner Jr. introduced himself to Edward “Eddie” Gurtner III and Randy Chaney the day the two CarQuest Auto Parts employees were slain in March 2011, was in the store “right before closing” and returned to the crime scene that night, Turner admitted in a videotaped interrogation played Saturday at his capital murder trial.
“I shook Eddie’s hand,” Turner, then 21, calmly told East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s Sgt. Sonya Harden in the early part of his 11-hour interrogation on March 28, 2011 — less than 24 hours after Gurtner and Chaney were shot to death in the warehouse of the CarQuest on Airline Highway near Siegen Lane.
The jury watched about half of the interrogation and heard Turner, a then newly hired CarQuest employee, vehemently deny any involvement in the deaths of Gurtner, 43, of Denham Springs, and Chaney, 55, of Greenwell Springs.
“No clue whatsoever. It didn’t have nothin’ to do with me,” Turner tells Harden inside a small room at the Violent Crime Unit at State Police headquarters.
Toward the end of the interrogation, the portion jurors are expected to hear and see Sunday, Turner finally confesses after he is told a gun had been recovered behind the store. During the interrogation, detectives also found Regions Bank bags and CarQuest deposit slips in a garbage can outside the Ritterman Avenue home where Turner was living with his uncle.
In the part of the interrogation the jury watched Saturday, Turner is heard talking about going to the Airline store the morning of March 27, 2011 — the day of the killings — to introduce himself to Gurtner, the manager of that store.
Turner said he had been recently hired to work at the Plank Road store but would also rotate to the Government Street and Airline locations. The Government store has since closed.
Turner said he returned to the Airline store the afternoon of March 27, 2011, to shop for brake pads for his white 1990 BMW. He said he bought nothing. Turner said he helped Gurtner put some empty boxes in the dumpster behind the store. He also said Gurtner showed him around the store.
The last employee to leave the Airline store that day clocked out at 2:47 p.m., or 13 minutes before its scheduled closing that Sunday. Family members were unable to reach Gurtner and Chaney by 3:13 p.m., Harden testified.
“I have a huge problem I can’t get around,” Harden tells Turner during the questioning at the Violent Crime Unit. “You’re the last person in the store, you leave, and nobody answers the phone.”
Turner responded by saying, “I’m being totally honest with you.”
Harden testified she found it odd that Turner would shop at the CarQuest on Airline when there were two other CarQuest stores closer to where he lived.
Turner was left alone in the interrogation for long periods of time, causing him to stretch, yawn, lay his head on the table, pace back and forth and prop his feet up on a chair.
Turner, now 25, faces a possible death sentence if convicted as charged.