Crawford County District Attorney Francis Schultz announced Monday that the Commonwealth will seek the death penalty in the case against Jack Elijah Turner.
Turner, 21, of Saegertown, is accused of killing his step-mother, Shannon Whitman, 49, and her son, Darrin Whitman, 10, at their home in Randolph Township in August.
Schultz issued a press release on Monday stating that his office filed a Notice of Aggravating Circumstances in the double homicide case.
“The purpose of the Notice of Aggravating Circumstances is to put the defendant on notice that the Commonwealth will be seeking the death penalty against him and to provide the defendant with sufficient time and information to prepare for the sentencing hearing if the defendant is convicted of murder of the first degree in the killings of the victims,” Schultz said. “It is important to remember that the charges that have been filed against Jack Turner are merely accusations and that Turner is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.”
Scott Whitman discovered the bodies of his wife and son when he returned home from work on the night of the alleged incident. Whitman testified at Turner’s preliminary hearing in November, according to Herald coverage of the hearing. During the hearing, state police troopers who investigated the scene, testified that both victims had been shot in the head.
Whitman described coming home to an unusual scene with an unlocked front door, his wife’s missing car and no lights on in the house. He found both bodies in the sunroom. Turner is accused of fleeing the scene in Shannon Whitman’s car.
Scott Whitman is Turner’s biological father, according to the Nov. 2 article in The Herald. He told the court that Turner was not allowed (to be) at his home.
Turner was apprehended on Aug. 14 at a Greyhound bus station in Charleston, West Virginia. At the preliminary hearing, Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Chad Resetar testified that after he was apprehended, Turner admitted to stealing Whitman’s car but not to the murders.
Turner was committed to the Crawford County jail on Oct. 15, 2019. Bail was denied.
He faces two first-degree felony counts of criminal homicide, as well as multiple counts of burglary and theft charges. According to court dockets, Turner was awaiting plea court as of Feb. 14. A plea hearing is the court hearing where a defendant responds to the criminal charges filed against them.