NORWICH – Christopher Turner was sentenced to five years in prison Monday for beating his wife and a male victim in April, 2014.
“I can relive the event like it was yesterday, from the first moment Chris attempted to pull me out of the window by a fistful of my hair, then entering the room and having his right fist punching my face as he restrained my hands and sat on top of me, preventing me from defending myself,” said Kimberly Turner to the court at the sentencing. “I still picture every object in the room as he swung me by my hair hair and then used his knee to punch in my face. I remember asking God if this was how I was going to die.”
It was on Jan. 1, 2014 when Christopher first was violent toward his wife, but she said she now realizes the various forms that domestic violence can take.
“We were in an unhealthy, toxic relationship that was having an impact on our children. He refused to accept the fact I was unhappy for a long period of time. Yes, I gave up, I ran out of the energy it took to financially support our family, organize our family, and keep structure in our family. Divorce was my answer and it was long overdue,” said Kimberly.
Kimberly said she explained to her children that when a person no longer makes you happy and the bad outweighs the good, change needs to happen.
“What I didn’t expect,” said Kimberly, “Is having to be responsible to explain to them how their father could hurt their mother so bad. My children saw what their father did to me. They saw the bruises and they saw the blood he intentionally left on my face. They had to live with the reminder every day while my injuries healed. I tell them no matter how angry and mad you may be at someone, violence is never the answer.”
Kimberly continued, “Your Honor, I hope that the decision you make today will not only serve as punishment, but will also make an impact in the future so that it will also be an example - an Order of Protection should never be taken lightly. There are others who have experienced the impact of violated orders in Chenango County and I am grateful to be here today, alive.”
“I was a victim of a horrific, violent event, but now I stand here as a survivor,” said Kimberly. “A voice for others who turn to our law enforcement for protection. I believed Chris regarded the Order of Protection as just a piece of paper, and again, showed no respect for the law. I repeatedly asked for assistance during instances I felt he had violated what was clearly printed in the Order of Protection, and unfortunately the justice system did little to act on it.”
First Assistant District Attorney Michael Ferrarese was present on behalf of the people, and F. Paul Battisti was present as counsel for Christopher Turner. Both had the opportunity to address the court. After hearing from all parties, Chenango County Court Judge Frank B. Revoir Jr. would then deliver his sentence.
“There is no doubt that the defendant’s actions have affected so many people’s lives,” said Ferrarese. “This defendant pled guilty to burglary in the first degree. Through negotiations, all parties thought a just sentence would be five to seven years in state prison. We are asking for the maximum: seven years in state prison with five years post-release supervision.”
Ferrarese pointed out that Mr. Turner violated the Order of Protection that was in place, and said that Mr. Turner neglects to address his repeated violations.
“There is no excuse for his behavior,” said Ferrarese. “Not alcohol, not addiction, not cutting firewood … nothing.”
Ferrarese continued. “An Order of Protection must be followed when issued. Those orders keep this society civilized, keep people safe. This defendant did not follow those orders. The defendant’s actions escalated. The defendant spit on the orders.”
The ADA said Mr. Turner could not let go of the control of his estranged wife.
“Judge, remember that Kimberly, [the male victim], and the four children suffered as a result of Mr. Turner’s actions,” said Ferrarese. “The emotional scars may have an impact for life.”
“Mr. Turner unlawfully entered, assaulted his wife, and not only was it a beating, it was a ‘brutal beating,’” said Ferrarese. “I saw pictures. I couldn’t recognize Kimberly’s face. That’s how brutally beaten she was. On the 911 tape, you can hear [the male victim] say, ‘You’re going to kill me,’ and Mr. Turner reply, ‘You’re right, I am.’”
Battisti then had an opportunity to address the court on behalf of his client, Mr. Turner.
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning,” said Battisti. “What Mr. Ferrarese said was true. The reason we are here today, without the need for a trial, is because this man, this father, this son, this godfather, accepted responsibility. He pled guilty. The past is the past. We’re not here to determine if he will go to state prison or not go to state prison. Per a plea agreement, we are here for a sentencing of a minimum by law of five years, the legislative set minimum. It can be a maximum of seven.”
Battisti then said there were factors to take into account when selecting an appropriate sentence.
“Prior to Jan. 14, 2014, Mr. Turner had committed minimal to no criminal acts at all,” said Battisti. “He and Kimberly had family. He rose those children. He loves those children. He misses those kids. He will see them again. He can file a petition, they can be brought to the jail. He understands the children’s emotional well-being is important. He writes to his children. Mr. Turner himself is healing.”
Continued Battisti, “What he did that night was wrong. He doesn’t want to have a relationship with Kimberly. He has been incarcerated for almost two years.”
Battisti said the violations Ferrarese mentioned pre-date the incident at hand.
“He could have called her [Kimberly], but he hasn’t done that,” Battisti said. “He’s learning, he’s healing. Mr. Turner accepts that he can never drink again.”
“Mr. Turner found himself in a situation and he handled it wrong,” said Battisti. “The longer Mr. Turner is removed from his family and children, the harder it will be to reintegrate. Without effective reintegration, and the longer he is incarcerated, there will be more of a struggle to reintegrate.”
Said Battisti, “These children need their mother and their father. Thank God they are both here today.”
“He is 43 years old, he has done a lot of remarkable things, and unfortunately, one horrible thing,” said Battisti. “When someone does something wrong, don’t forget all the things they did right.”
Battisti then asked the court to sentence his client to five years incarceration with five years post release supervision.
Mr. Turner then addressed the court.
“I express my apologies,” said Turner. “There is no winner here.” He apologized to Ferrarese and the District Attorney’s Office, to the Chenango County Sheriff’s Office for “other things they could have been doing,” and to the community as a whole.
“I want to apologize to Kim’s father, him too, and Kim’s mother,” said Mr. Turner. “I truly am sorry.”
“I am a good man, I have been a good man,” said Mr. Turner. “I have been a good father. I haven’t spoken to my kids in 21 months – for beating two people up. I’m sorry that happened. I love my kids. For 15 years, I was unaware there was a problem. I tried quitting drinking by myself. I couldn’t fix the pieces of the puzzle so I went to rehab.”
Said Mr. Turner, “Kim picked up the kids. I said the prayer [that he recited in court] at home. I sat on the guardrail across the street. I talked to Jesus and read the prayer. I crossed the road. I saw [male victim’s] car.”
Mr. Turner said he did not want to take it to trial and hurt Kimberly more.
“My actions have been wrong to Kim and [male victim],” said Mr. Turner. “I took this plea in hopes that this was an act of me fixing things.”
Said Mr. Turner, “Kim, I’m sorry for my behavior. I hope we can be good parents to our children. We will always have our children.”
Mr. Turner said the incarceration is not the worst of what’s happened. “The punishment from this will be forever. I am not running from this community. I will have to teach my boys about it, and teach my girls about it. Coming back here and being a man about it - that’s going to be the hard luck. Alcohol took from me - it took everything.”
At 5:40 p.m. Monday, Judge Revoir returned with his sentence. Revoir sentenced Mr. Turner to five years incarceration and five years post-release supervision for the top charge of the violent felony of burglary in the first degree. He was sentenced to concurrent time for the additional charges Mr. Turner entered guilty pleas to, and they will all run at the same time.
Orders of Protection were executed for the maximum amount of time allowed by law, extending to 2034. The orders are for both adult victims.
“This was one of the most difficult cases for me,” said Revoir.
Following the sentencing, Ferrarese said, “While I am disappointed in the court’s decision, I respect the decision and the judge’s sentence is solely within his discretion. But it was in my opinion that seven years was appropriate given the seriousness of the acts the defendant committed.”
Kimberly contacted The Evening Sun early Tuesday and said: “We are disappointed with the result of our case, but I realize now the judge made a decision based on the plea the DA's office offered. They actually reduced the original plea to this one that was accepted. The DA's plea put Judge Revior in a situation where the judge openly admits he had a very small window of two years to work with, with the minimum being 5 years, maximum 7 years, and I think the positive effect he did make is the maximum 5 years parole. I understand that it's the District Attorney's office that has the discretion to choose how to prosecute the defendant, but I should have demanded more. I should have been a stronger voice from the beginning, but I relied on the DA's office and believed that the plea was the answer to sparing myself, family and friends additional trauma after what we had already been through. So yes, justice was sparingly served, and we accept it and move forward. We have to accept it is what it is, rather then dwell and rant on what could have been done different. I hope my case will set an example for the next time Chenango County is faced with an act of domestic violence. I hope the importance of an Order of Protection is understood better, and that consequences be more severe to offenders.”
Battisti said, “We were very satisfied with the judge's ruling. We think it is fair and reasonable and clearly in the best interest of all parties involved. Mr. Turner will be credited with time served. The judge’s sentence clearly considered Mr. Turner as a human being and sentenced him not only based upon his conduct, but also seeing him as a human being coupled with his acceptance of responsibility and all of his achievements throughout his 43 years in the Chenango County community. It is our hope that he will be released from prison in just over two years considering credit for good time so he may once again reintegrate back into his children's lives.”