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Judge: Defendant’s statements can be used at murder trial

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, March 21, 2014, at 7:24 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, April 1, 2014, at 5:47 p.m.

A statement made by a suspect in the 2012 slaying of former Wichita South High football player Jordan Turner can be played for a jury despite the fact that it was made outside the presence of her lawyer and against her lawyer’s advice, a judge ruled Friday.

District Judge Joseph Bribiesca said in his ruling that because the statement by Ebony Nguyen was given voluntarily, it can be presented to a jury when she stands trial next week in Turner’s killing.

Nguyen, 22, is charged with arranging the killing after Turner, 19, allegedly bought $300 worth of marijuana from her with counterfeit bills.

Turner’s body was found in a field near Pawnee and 127th Street East on May 1, 2013, and a Crime Stoppers tip that night led to the arrest of four suspects, three of whom have been charged with Turner’s murder.

Kristopher JaQuinton Wright, 21, the first of the three to stand trial, was convicted by a jury in February of first-degree murder and is awaiting sentencing. Nguyen, 22, is scheduled to stand trial next week in Bribiesca’s courtroom. A third defendant, Eric Jackson, 22, is scheduled to stand trial later this month.

In a pretrial motion Friday, prosecutor Robert Short said Nguyen was initially interviewed by detectives on May 3 and was interviewed again on May 8 after she asked to talk to detectives.

She was accompanied by her lawyer when she went into the second interview, Short said, but an hour into the conversation the lawyer had to leave. The lawyer recommended to Nguyen that she terminate the interview, Short said, but she continued to discuss the case with detectives after he left.

Although a tape of the interview was not played in the courtroom, Bribiesca ruled that prosecutors will be allowed to share it with the jury.

Bribiesca also upheld an earlier ruling in which he said a witness can tell the jury about a conversation he had with Turner shortly before Turner was killed. Court records show that Turner admitted in that conversation that he used counterfeit money to buy the marijuana from Nguyen, and that he said he was afraid of what Nguyen might do to him.

Short told Bribiesca that plea negotiations in the case were at an impasse.

“Right not we are headed for trial,” he said.

Reach Hurst Laviana at 316-268-6499 or hlaviana@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @hlaviana.

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