MEADVILLE—Jack Turner, the subject of a national manhunt in 2019 after he committed a double homicide, pleaded guilty Thursday morning at the Crawford County Courthouse in the killing of his stepmother and stepbrother in August of 2019.
Turner, who was 21 at the time of the incident, pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree murder and one count of burglary. Turner was sentenced to 45-90 years behind bars, what District Attorney Francis Schultz said he believes will end up being a life sentence.
Turner pleaded guilty to shooting Shannon Whitman, 49, and her son Darrin Whitman, 10, at a house located at 13185 State Highway 198 in Randolph Township. Both victims were shot in the back of the head.
Turner was sentenced by Judge Mark Stevens. Turner received 20-40 years for each count of third-degree murder and 5-10 years for the burglary. The counts must be served consecutively.
The plea deal, according to Schultz, “resolved the case in its entirety.”
Schultz spoke with The Herald Thursday afternoon. With the plea deal, Turner will avoid the death penalty.
His trial was stated to start in October. The two sides had been in conversation about a potential plea deal for the past 10-14 days, Schultz said. Turner was being represented by attorneys Michael Waltman and Owen Seman.
Speaking to the outcome of the case, which took years, Schultz said that this deal assures an outcome and gives the county more control.
“I like guarantees,” he said, “When you go to a jury trial you never know what is going to happen.” He said that cases like these “are tough” and that he was “pleased with the way that it was resolved.”
While some may say that Turner got off easy, Schultz disagrees with that notion.
“He’s not getting off easy,” said Schultz, “I think 45 years is a very long time and I think for all intents and purposes it will end up being a life sentence.”
Schultz also wanted to thank the Pennsylvania State Police, who he said “did a great job in the investigation.”
He said that officers poured a lot of hard work into the case, especially when Turner was apprehended within four days of the search.
Thanks was also expressed to the law enforcement in Charleston, West Virginia, who captured Turner after he had taken Greyhound buses to Florida and made his way along the East Coast.
Dvorkin can be reached by email at Gdvorkin@titusvilleherald.com.