Juror Excused in Strangling, Burial Case

An alternate juror has stepped in to replace a juror excused Monday from the case of a man on trial for allegedly killing then burying his wife in the back yard.

Deliberations began last week in the case of Keith Turner, 57, of Ramona.  The jury must decide if it was murder, manslaughter or self-defense that caused his wife Toby Turner's death.

Keith Turner buried her in a shallow grave beside a backyard pond in September 2005. He told investigators he moved his wife's skeletal remains to a deeper grave at the side of his Oak Springs Drive home as he prepared to sell the house in November 2007.

Sean Turner, Keith Turner's stepson, testified that he witnessed the killing. Both the defense and the prosecution have admitted that he has problems with credibility.

The prosecutor argued that although there is no physical evidence, Turner is guilty  "beyond a reasonable doubt."

"There's direct evidence of the cause of death. That evidence doesn't come from Toby's skeleton, that direct evidence comes from the people who were there," said prosecutor Kurt Mechals. "Sean Turner was there and the defendant was there, along with Toby Turner and obviously she's not available to come in and tell you what happened, so the task falls to the other two."

Defense attorney Tom Warwick said that Toby Turner was addicted to meth, that she was a woman whose friends and family could no longer support her, and whose husband was at a breaking point.

Deliberations resumed at 11:20 a.m. Monday following a break over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

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