Armed man arrested outside SLO bank pleads no contest to charges

acornejo@thetribunenews.comApril 17, 2013 

Turner Newman, 20, of San Luis Obispo, was arrested Wednesday, March 13, 2013, on suspicion of carrying a concealed weapon and a loaded firearm in his vehicle. Original story »

  • Location of home

    This map shows the 200 block of Ranchito Lane in San Luis Obispo, where police served a search warrant at the home of Turner Newman in late March.

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Turner Newman, the San Luis Obispo man arrested in March after police found him in a car with loaded weapons outside a San Luis Obispo bank, pleaded no contest Wednesday to three felony weapons-related charges. He could serve up to five years in prison.

San Luis Obispo police said Newman, 20, had been researching ways "to drug, render unconscious, maim, and/or kill people" on his home computer.

Newman had previously pleaded not guilty to possessing a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school, carrying a concealed firearm in a vehicle and carrying a loaded firearm in public.

A no-contest plea results in a conviction without an admission of guilt.

Newman was arrested March 13 after police discovered him outside the Heritage Oaks branch on Froom Ranch Way with a loaded shotgun, handgun, ammunition, handcuffs, leg restraints, duct tape, zip ties and a machete.

The bank is within 1,000 feet of Pacific Beach High School, where his mother works. Pacific Beach is a continuation high school for students ages 16 and up in grades 10 through 12 who are enrolled in the San Luis Coastal Unified School District.

Newman's intentions that morning were unclear, police said. A little after 6 a.m. March 13, a bank employee called police to tell them that a suspicious man was parked outside the bank. When the police officers arrived, Newman appeared dazed and confused, according to authorities.

The San Luis Coastal Unified School District hired an attorney because of Newman's proximity to the high school and his personal connection to it. School personnel expressed concern about Newman’s intentions. However, no direct threats were made to the school or the staff there, said Eric Prater, San Luis Coastal superintendent.

In late March, San Luis Obispo police detectives served a search warrant at Newman’s residence in the 200 block of Ranchito Lane in San Luis Obispo and recovered his computer, according to authorities.

Detectives at the time said they did not know whether Newman had acted on any of the information that he obtained during his Internet searches. Authorities in April asked anyone who may have been a victim of criminal or suspicious activity involving Newman to call the San Luis Obispo Police Department.

To date, no additional charges have been filed.

Newman, a San Luis Obispo County native, was discharged from the Army on Jan. 28 after enlisting in October 2010. It was an honorable discharge, defense attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu said.

Turner was stationed with the Army in South Korea from March 2010 to April 2012 before reporting back to Fort Campbell, Ky., where his last assignment was in cargo transportation.

Newman remains in custody at San Luis Obispo County Jail without bail. He will be sentenced on May 15.

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