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Airman found not guilty of 2005 murder

  Military Law  -   POSTED: 2007/05/17 14:18

A military jury Wednesday cleared an Air Force airman of charges that he beat and stabbed a fellow airman to death at a base in Iceland to keep her from testifying against him in a theft case. Standing at attention in his blue Air Force uniform, Airman Calvin Eugene Hill's eyes grew wide and he exhaled loudly as the jury read its verdict of not guilty to murder and obstruction of justice. Hill faced a relatively rare military death sentence if he had been convicted of murder.

Hill, 21, was accused of killing Airman First Class Ashley Turner on Aug. 14, 2005, at the Naval Station in Keflavik. Turner, 20, of Frederick, Md., was about to testify against Hill in his court-martial for stealing $2,700 from her. Hill later pleaded guilty to charges related to the larceny and still faces punishment for those charges.

The 14-person jury of Air Force officers and enlisted personnel deliberated for five hours Wednesday after hearing three weeks of testimony in a Bolling Air Force Base courtroom, including lengthy closing arguments Tuesday from Hill's defense team and military prosecutors.

Turner's father, Larry Turner, was visibly dismayed as he gathered with his family outside the courtroom.

"We're really disappointed," Larry Turner said. "I'm afraid for society. There's a killer out there. My daughter's dead and someone did it."

Hill's mother declined to comment. She wept quietly as the verdict was read.

Ashley Turner and Hill were both in the Air Force's 56th Rescue Squad and in the same dorm at the Keflavik base, which has since closed. Hill was to be court-martialed for using Turner's ATM card to withdraw her money, but Turner's body was found in a spare room at the dorm eight days before the case was to begin.

Prosecutors claim Hill hunted her down, slammed an exercise weight into her face, dragged her body into the spare room and then attacked her with a knife. A spot of Turner's blood was found on Hill's shoelace, which prosecutors said proved his role in the crime.

An Army private who shared a jail cell with Hill in Germany told investigators that Hill confessed to him. But the private, Cyrus Hughes, recanted when he was later questioned by Hill's defense team, only to revert to his original story when he testified during Hill's murder trial.

Defense lawyers suggested others might be responsible for Turner's murder. That included her boyfriend, who also faced court-martial for allegedly using drugs. Hill's lawyers said Turner knew about his drug use.

They speculated rescue crews might have allowed Turner's blood to spill as they carried her out of the building, blood that later ended up on Hill's shoe. And they wondered why Turner's key card was used after the time of the attack, which could have meant she was killed at a time when Hill had a solid alibi.


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