Father, Son Could Face Death Penalty In Bombing Case

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Jury selection is set to begin this week in the case of a father-son pair accused of bombing an Oregon bank, an attack that left two police officers dead and wounded several more. The pair are charged with aggravated murder and could face the death penalty if convicted—a punishment that, while legally allowable in the state, is rare.

The suspects, Bruce and Joshua Turnidge, are accused of having left a bomb that they had manufactured outside the West Coast Bank in Woodburn, Oregon, on December 12, 2008. Police, responding to reports of a suspicious box, investigated the suspected bomb but determined that it was a hoax. They took the bomb into the bank building, where it exploded, killing Oregon State Police trooper and bomb technician William Hakim and Woodburn Police Captain Thomas Tennant.

Also injured in the attack were bank employee Laurie Perkett and Woodburn Police Chief Scott Russell, who was in a coma for a week following the blast.

Joshua Turnidge, 34, was arrested on December 14; his father, Bruce Turnidge, 59, was apprehended three days later. Each of them now faces 10 counts of aggravated murder; three counts of attempted aggravated murder; first-degree assault; second-degree assault; unlawful manufacture of a destructive device; unlawful possession of a destructive device; and conspiracy to commit aggravated murder—a total of 18 felony counts.

Under Oregon statute, only those who have been convicted of aggravated murder are eligible for the death penalty. Prosecutors have indicated their intention to seek the death penalty against the Turnidges if the father and son are convicted.

Opening statements in the trial are scheduled for September 29, and Marion County Judge Thomas Hart has issued a gag order prohibiting officials, attorneys or anyone involved in the case from commenting publicly on it. Since it is such a high-profile case, media coverage of the trial has been restricted to one photographer and one video camera allowed in the courtroom.

Jury summons were sent out to approximately 1,600 potential jurors. The trial is expected to last 12 weeks. According to some sources, the prosecution plans to pain the Turnidges as anti-government and anti-police, and to introduce a witness statement that discusses how the men allegedly pumped their fists in the air triumphantly when the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing occurred.

 

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