SAN DIEGO — An ex-con who was on parole for the killing of a fellow inmate when he shot an acquaintance in the back of the head outside the victim’s Clairemont home was sentenced Thursday to 81 years to life in prison.
Jeffery Alan Turner, 37, was convicted of first-degree murder in April for the Jan. 3, 2018, slaying of 52-year-old Frank “Pancho” Magana, who was shot while exiting the front door of his home in the 4600 block of Sauk Avenue.
Officers found him on the ground in front of his residence and provided medical aid before he was taken to a local hospital, where he died on Jan. 16. Turner and Magana knew each other through mutual friends, but no concrete motive for the shooting was provided by the prosecution.
Several of Magana’s family members spoke at Turner’s sentencing hearing.
Maria Ledesma, one of the victim’s sisters, called the shooting “cowardly” and told Turner: “My brother was a mano a mano guy and you couldn’t even do that.”
The victim’s son, Frank, wanted Turner to know the family was standing strong despite losing Magana.
“We’re not broken, we’re just hurt,” he said, calling his father a “man of honor” and Turner “a coward for doing it the way you did.”
Though Turner’s family was not present during the trial, a small group of family members were in court for his sentencing.
Turner’s 16-year-old daughter said she’d just recently met her father for the first time, as he’d spent much of her life behind bars for a variety of crimes, including the 2006 killing of a fellow inmate at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, to which he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and received a nine-year sentence.
“I’m sorry that you guys had to go through this,” his daughter tearfully told Magana’s family, one of whom replied, “We’re sorry for you, too.”
Turner made a brief statement, saying “I thank my family for being here and my loved ones who’ve supported me through this.”
During the trial, Deputy District Attorney Kristie Nikoletich told jurors that a friend of Magana’s was at the home and heard someone approach the victim and twice say “It’s J.T,” just before the shooting.
The witness said Magana appeared annoyed when “J.T.” showed up at his home, indicating they likely knew each other, according to the prosecutor.
Magana’s friend did not see the shooter but later informed police she knew the defendant and believed he was “J.T.,” Nikoletich said.
Police searched a home where Turner was staying, turning up a revolver that was matched to the splintered pieces of a bullet found in the victim and at the shooting scene, the prosecutor said. She also said that both Turner and Magana’s DNA were found on the gun.
Surveillance footage taken from the home where Turner was staying showed him celebrating outside the residence hours after the shooting, Nikoletich said. She said the footage showed Turner making speeches to someone off camera and mimicking bowling strikes.
Turner’s attorney, John O’Connell, told jurors that Magana repeated the name “Elijah” to officers when they inquired about the shooter.
O’Connell told the jury, “The prosecutor is going to ask you not to believe the victim, who had no reason to lie,” and alleged that the prosecution’s ballistics evidence matching the revolver to the bullet was “bad science.”
He also said Magana’s DNA on the revolver was not the result of “blow back” as the prosecution maintained, but rather contamination from investigators, who he claimed inadvertently transferred Magana’s DNA from the shooting scene to the gun. Further, he said the victim’s DNA did not come from blood, as one would expect, and that it was found on a part of the gun that made no sense in relation to the shooting.