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Zedrick Turnbough

Other California Exonerations
On August 28, 2014, 36-year-old Zedrick Turnbough was arrested after a traffic stop in Anaheim, California. Police searched him and found a drug straw and a hand-sized metal cylinder with two short spikes sticking out of the middle.

He was taken to the Orange County jail, where a second search found a small amount of heroin and methamphetamine. Turnbough was charged with two counts of smuggling controlled substances into a correctional facility, two counts of drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of “metal knuckles,” and resisting a peace officer.

Turnbough’s jury trial was on February 10, 2015. He was acquitted of the smuggling and resisting charges but convicted of the other four charges. Prior to sentencing, he argued for these convictions to be treated as misdemeanors rather than felonies, which would allow for probation rather than an active sentence. At his sentencing on March 6, the judge agreed to reduce three of the convictions to misdemeanors, but the weapons charge remained a felony, and Turnbough was sentenced to four years in prison.

He appealed his conviction. While not denying that the object police found could be used a weapon (which Turnbough said he carried for self-defense), his attorneys said that they weren’t “metal knuckles,” as defined by California’s Penal Code. The code required the “knuckles” to be worn—to stay attached to a hand, without the user having to hold on to the object. California's Fourth District Court of Appeal agreed and reversed Turnbough’s conviction on October 12, 2016. The charges were dismissed on December 13, 2016, and Turnbough was released from prison.

In 2018, the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board approved paying Turnbough $92,260 after the attorney general's office recommended he receive compensation because he was factually innocent. His potential award was reduced because on the day his charges were dismissed, a judge resentenced him on the three misdemeanor convictions to six months, which counted against the time he spent wrongfully convicted.

– Ken Otterbourg

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Posting Date: 4/26/2019
Most Serious Crime:Weapon Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2014
Sentence:4 years
Age at the date of reported crime:36
Contributing Factors:
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No