In what his attorney calls an exceptionally sad case, a San Luis Obispo man convicted of shooting at his father’s Los Osos home in 2015 will spend about a decade in state prison after being sentenced for attempted murder earlier this month.
Turner Lee Newman, 25, pleaded no contest to attempted murder and shooting at an inhabited dwelling on Nov. 8 and was immediately sentenced to 11 years and eight months in state prison, according to his attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, who said Newman must serve at least 85 percent of that time.
In exchange for his plea, charges of assault with a deadly weapon and being a felon in possession of a firearm were dismissed. He faced a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The case had been postponed last year so that Newman could be treated at Atascadero State Hospital. Funke-Bilu said his client has a long history of mental illness, but declined to discuss it in detail for medical confidentiality reasons.
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“It’s just so sad in so many ways,” Funke-Bilu said. “Not just what happened on the night of the incident, but also the disease my client suffers from.”
Funke-Bilu added that the victim in the case, Newman’s father, committed suicide while his son’s case was working its way through the court.
We all know he needs help. But instead he gets warehoused.
“I think the victim — if he were alive — would have asked the court to provide (Newman) treatment. That’s why this is such a tragedy,” Funke-Bilu said. “We all know he needs help. But instead he gets warehoused.”
Newman, a San Luis Obispo resident and U.S. Army veteran, had been in custody since his arrest in July 2015. That arrest came after Newman served about two years in prison for convictions on weapons charges in 2013.
In March 2013, Newman was arrested after employees at a Heritage Oaks Bank in San Luis Obispo found him sitting in his car in the bank’s parking lot, which was across the street from Pacific Beach continuation high school, where his mother worked.
When police arrived, they found loaded guns, ammunition, a machete and restraints in his car. Investigators later found he had done Google searches on drugging, kidnapping and raping women. He also had researched hiding corpses and the weapons used in the Newtown, Connecticut, school massacre, according to court testimony.
He was released from prison on mandatory county supervision in early 2015 after serving about half of his five-year sentence.
In July 2015, Newman was again arrested after firing eight rounds from a Springfield XD .45-caliber handgun through a front window of his father’s home in the 1600 block of 14th Street in Los Osos. Newman’s father — who was sleeping inside the home — was not injured.
At a March 2016 preliminary hearing, a San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office detective testified that Newman admitted that he shot into the house because he “felt like killing somebody.”
But under cross-examination, Detective Patrick Zuchelli also testified that Newman’s father had recently kicked his son out of his home and he didn’t believe he meant to hurt him.
Newman’s case was stalled after he was declared incompetent to stand trialin September 2015 and he spent five months at Atascadero State Hospital before his competency was restored so he could enter a plea.
“This is another example of how the system treats our mentally ill,” Funke-Bilu said. “I wish there was a way our criminal justice system could be more compassionate.”
In court documents, a San Luis Obispo Superior Court judge recommended that Newman serve his sentence at California Men’s Colony so that he could be near family. But according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Newman is currently serving his sentence at Wasco State Prison.