Man charged Saturday in violent sexual assault was acquitted of murder in 2001

Rosie Mullaley
Published on November 5, 2013
Gregory Joseph Turner is escorted into provincial court in St. John’s this afternoon. — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

A man who was acquitted of murder more than a decade ago has been charged with committing a violent sexual assault.

Gregory Joseph Turner appeared in provincial court in St. John’s this afternoon.

Duty counsel Jane Fitzpatrick requested that Turner undergo an overnight psychiatric assessment.

He’s due back in court Wednesday.

The 34-year-old is charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm at his residence on Saturday and uttering threats towards the woman.

The victim was transported to hospital with non-life threatening injuries, treated and released. The Telegram has learned that her injuries included bite marks to her chest.

The incident was said to have happened at around 7:20 a.m.

Turner — a native of Lawn who lives in St. John’s — made headlines in the late 1990s when he was accused of murdering his neighbour, retired school teacher Rose Haley.

The body of Haley, 54, was discovered Dec. 16, 1997, in the bathroom of her home after three men noticed smoke coming from the house and called the fire department.

While the cause of the fire was found to be faulty wiring, the province's chief medical examiner concluded Haley had been strangled and had received at least three blows to her head and face.

The RCMP charged Turner with first-degree murder in March 1998. Turner, who was 19 at the time, was committed to stand trial for second-degree murder. However, DNA evidence presented during the trial was inconclusive.

Turner was found not guilty by a jury in March 2001.

In 2003, Turner was back in court, where he was sentenced to four months in prison for theft, breaching court orders and failing to appear in court. Afterwards, he had told reporters it didn’t matter what the police thought of the Haley case, because he knows the difference.

“I know I had nothing to do with it, so somewhere with the investigation they were wrong,” he said back then.

“I don't know if they’re going to backtrack and see where they went wrong, but I think there should be something done about it. Someone has to be held accountable, in my opinion. A lot of trouble, hardship came over the past 5 1/2 years,” Turner said.

He said the adversity he suffered includes an addiction to prescription pills which he developed while in jail awaiting trial on the murder charge.

“The drugs have been a constant battle, going from one day to the next. You spend half the day trying to get the drugs, the other half doing them,” he said.

“It’s hard on your mind, your family, you’re at the bottom of the pit and you don't know how to get out of it,” he said.

Turner said pills were the only coping mechanism he had in jail.

Twitter: @TelyCourt