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A New York gang member who crashed a stolen car into a family's vehicle, leaving five dead, had stunning levels of marijuana in his system at the time of the incident, a district attorney revealed at his sentencing.
Jamel Turner, a 27-year-old member of the notorious Bloods, received 27 years in prison for aggravated vehicular homicide and several other charges on Tuesday, following a fatal collision on Valentine's Day of 2018. Turner pleaded guilty earlier in the year.
Turner had been driving a stolen Chevy Camaro on Route 25 in Suffolk County, New York. He had been careening through the streets at 154 miles per hour, nearly four times the 40 mph speed limit, when he struck a Mazda carrying members of the McCoy family. Both cars were launched into other vehicles on the road as a result of the collision, causing several additional injuries. The driver of the Mazda, Jacquelyn McCoy, her daughter, Mary Alice Booker, her son, Anthony McCoy, and Anthony’s girlfriend, Tameka Foster, were burned to death in the car. Lonidell Skinner, the passenger in Turner's car, and Turner's dog, were thrown out of the Camaro and killed as well.
When police arrived at the scene, Turner gave them a false name and lied about being the driver of the Camaro. A year later, Turner pleaded guilty to the numerous charges that resulted from the crash.
At the sentencing, Turner refused to leave his jail cell and requested to withdraw his guilty plea, stating that his attorney, Scott Gross, had refused to pursue various defenses, according to Newsday. Justice Fernando Camacho denied the request and threatened to sentence Turner to life in prison should he refuse to cooperate.
Suffolk district attorney, Timothy Sini, was furious with Turner's behavior.
“You have an individual who, after receiving effective assistance of counsel, takes a plea, and the day of sentencing, he doesn’t have the courage to show up in court,” Sini said, according to The New York Times. “He’s hiding in his prison cell. It’s pathetic.”
Sini had also noted that Turner was driving “the speed at which jetliners take off,” and was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the crash.
“[Turner was] so high that the medical examiner said it was the second highest level of marijuana that they’ve ever seen in a living specimen,” Sini said.
When given the opportunity to speak, Turner apologized for his actions.
“I want to say sorry to all the families,” Turner said. “I lost a best friend in this situation.”
Assistant District Attorney Brendan Ahern was unimpressed with Turner's words.
"He blames everyone else and everything else but himself," Ahern said, according to Newsday, describing him as a convicted drug dealer, and a "habitual abuser of women."
Justice Camacho also continued to chastise Turner for his behavior.
“Burned alive,” Camcho said. “Real human beings. Burned to death. Alive! You get it? Jamel Turner wiped out an entire family.”
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