Rape trial focuses on Turner's taped interviews

2009-10-29T00:00:00Z Rape trial focuses on Turner's taped interviewsBy Kim Smith ARIZONA DAILY STAR Arizona Daily Star
October 29, 2009 12:00 am  • 

Former UA football player Johnathan Turner now says the sex he had with a fellow student last year was consensual, but during his first, 90-minute meeting with police detectives he repeatedly denied having sex with her at all.

Turner, a former defensive lineman with the UA Wildcats, is on trial in Pima County Superior Court on a single count of sexual assault. He is accused of raping a then-18-year-old freshman at a home on the city's northwest side in April 2008.

Jurors spent most of Wednesday morning watching a taped interview between Pima County sheriff's Detective Muriel McGillicuddy and Turner.

McGillicuddy met with Turner within 12 hours of the woman reporting the alleged sexual assault — after arranging the meeting through UA football coach Mike Stoops.

Turner told the detective he, fellow football player Ronnie Palmer and other UA students had spent the evening playing drinking games. By the time they decided to turn in for the night, Turner said all of them were "buzzed."

He and the alleged victim watched TV for a while before falling asleep on an L-shaped couch, Turner said. When he woke up, they were cuddled together and the woman responded to him when he began "kissing on her."

He was fondling the woman when all of a sudden, she jumped off the couch, Turner said.

"She woke up or something. It was weird," Turner said.

She asked where she was and what was going on before running into the bedroom of two of her friends, Turner said.

One of the woman's friends asked him to leave, saying she was hysterical, and he agreed.

McGillicuddy told Turner she thought he was telling the truth, but was withholding information.

"Why would she say you were having intercourse with her while she was asleep?" McGillicuddy asked Turner.

"I have no idea," Turner said.

Turner rejected McGillicuddy's suggestion that he mistakenly took things too far, saying he only kissed and fondled the woman.

He said he thought she was aware of what was happening because she repositioned herself on the couch, kissed him back and moaned.

McGillicuddy repeatedly tried to get Turner to admit the two had intercourse. She told him she knew he had a reputation as a gentleman and that she didn't think he'd meant to violate her.

When that didn't work, McGillicuddy asked Turner to think about the pain the woman was going through.

"I can tell you have something more you want to tell me," McGillicuddy said. "It's not the end of the world and it's not the end of your career. You're not a bad guy."

Eventually, Turner told McGillicuddy he wanted the interview to stop.

"What are you most afraid of?" McGillicuddy asked.

"That my life is over," Turner replied.

Turner was allowed to leave the police station after giving a DNA sample.

An hour later, Turner called to say there was more to the story and they set up another interview for that night, McGillicuddy testified Wednesday.

Turner never showed up, though, McGillicuddy said.

When she called him, he informed her Stoops had advised him to get an attorney.

Eleven days later, McGillicuddy interviewed Turner in the presence of his attorney, Richard Martinez.

It was during that interview that Turner said he and the woman had consensual sex. Jurors watched that video Wednesday afternoon.

Last week, the alleged victim told jurors she was feeling ill when she lay down on the living room couch to go to sleep between 2 and 2:30 a.m. She said she awoke about 4 a.m. to find her pants off and Turner having sex with her.

Deputy Pima County Attorney Michelle Araneta said Turner's DNA was found on the woman's breast, ear and lower abdomen.

Turner was suspended from the team within days of the alleged incident and suspended from school in April. His appeal is pending.

Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or kimsmith@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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