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Kenneth Turner

Other California Cases with Mistaken Witness Identifications
On July 28, 1994, 32-year-old Ronald Keef, a live-in apartment building maintenance worker, was fatally shot while attempting to stop the theft of a potted plant in Rosemont, California.

Two months later, police arrested 30-year-old Kenneth Turner on a charge of murder after his fingerprints were found on the planter.

Turner denied shooting Keef and told police that he was riding his bicycle near the scene when Keef was shot. He said he saw the shooting and that the gunman went by the name “Cheetah.”

Turner went to trial in Sacramento County Superior Court in March 1995. Witnesses testified for the prosecution that they saw Turner arguing with Keef, then heard a shot and saw Keef fall to the ground.

On March 28, 1995, a jury convicted Turner. Facing a maximum sentence of 20 years to life in prison, Turner filed a motion for a new trial in May 1995, saying the gunman was Lavester Oliver. Turner claimed he had not previously identified Oliver for fear of retaliation.

The Sacramental District Attorney’s office investigated Turner’s claim and in July 1995, filed a motion to vacate Turner’s conviction. The motion said that shortly after Keef was shot, Oliver, who had a prior conviction for robbery, was arrested on charges of being a convicted felon in possession of a gun.

Ballistics tests on the gun were inconclusive, but crime laboratory analysts said the bullet recovered from Keef came from a gun with the same general characteristics.

Moreover, Sacramento County Sheriff’s officers and District Attorney investigators tape-recorded telephone calls between Oliver, Turner and Turner’s brother. During the conversations about the shooting, Oliver did not deny he shot Keef, which the prosecutors contended was a tacit admission of guilt.

On July 31, 1995, a judge vacated Turner’s conviction. The prosecution dismissed the charge, but simultaneously filed a perjury charge against Turner for falsely claiming he did not the true identity of the man he called “Cheetah.” At the same time, Oliver was charged with murder.

Ultimately, Turner pled guilty to the perjury charge and was sentenced to probation. Oliver pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a weapon. The murder charge against him was later dismissed.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 12/8/2014
State:California
County:Sacramento
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1994
Convicted:1995
Exonerated:1995
Sentence:Not sentenced
Race:White
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:30
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No