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David Turnpaugh

Other Milwaukee County Exonerations
On May 10, 2005, police in Milwaukee, Wisconsin arrested 43-year-old David Turnpaugh on charges of soliciting a prostitute and bail-jumping.

On March 1, 2006, Turnpaugh went to trial in Milwaukee County Circuit Court. Milwaukee police officer Tara Ferguson testified that she was working undercover in an area of the city where residents had complained of prostitution activity. She said that while she was standing on the sidewalk near South 33rd Street and National Avenue, Turnpaugh drove by and made eye contact. He then pulled over.

Ferguson said the passenger window was down and when she looked inside, Turnpaugh had his hand on the crotch of his pants. Ferguson said Turnpaugh asked if she needed a ride and when she said she did not, he replied, “You know what kind of ride I’m talking about.”

Ferguson told him she didn’t know what he was talking about, and then Turnpaugh suggested they go into the alley. There, Ferguson testified, Turnpaugh told her that he was “looking for sex and that he wanted me to masturbate and he wanted to watch.” She testified that Turmpaugh told her that he was willing to pay her, although he didn’t say how much.

Ferguson said she then gave a pre-determined signal to an officer who kept her under surveillance. Turnpaugh was arrested.

Turnpaugh testified and denied that he had or wanted to proposition Ferguson. He said that in the alley, Ferguson yelled at him and said, “I want to have sex with you for money.” He said that she offered to perform oral sex for money at least 15 times. He said he began to get scared and thought he was going to get mugged. He testified that he was arrested after he said he was not going to offer her any money and began to walk away.

On March 2, 2006, the jury convicted Turnpaugh of solicitation of a prostitute and bail-jumping. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail. After three days, he was released on electronic monitoring for the remainder of his sentence.

In September 2007, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals reversed Turnpaugh’s convictions and ordered the case dismissed. “Standing alone, Turnpaugh's comment that he was ‘looking for sex’ is ambiguous,” the court said.

The court said that the statute required that there be a request for sexual penetration and that Turnpaugh’s request to watch the officer masturbate did not constitute a request for penetration. The court noted that the prosecution had conceded that if the solicitation conviction was vacated, the bail-jumping conviction had to be vacated as well.

Turnpaugh subsequently sought compensation from the Wisconsin Board of Claims, contending that he was innocent. The claim was denied on the basis that Turnpaugh had contributed to his own conviction. Turnpaugh appealed. In 2012, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled that Turnpaugh had been determined to be innocent “as a matter of law” in the decision that reversed his conviction.

On remand, the claims board again refused to grant Turnpaugh’s compensation claim and he sought relief in the Circuit Court. In June 2013, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Paul Van Grunsven ruled that Turnpaugh was factually innocent and should be compensated.

As a result, on November 25, 2013, the claims board awarded Turnpaugh $822 in compensation and an additional $36,025 in attorney’s fees and costs.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 10/29/2019
Most Serious Crime:Other Nonviolent Misdemeanor
Additional Convictions:Misdemeanor
Reported Crime Date:2005
Sentence:60 days
Age at the date of reported crime:43
Contributing Factors:
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No