Relatives recount bomb victims’ lives during sentencing hearing

Relatives recount bomb victims’ lives during sentencing hearing

SALEM, Ore. – In powerful testimony aimed at trying to convince a jury the father and son responsible for the Woodburn bank bombing should get the death penalty, wives and relatives of the police officers who were killed or hurt described their loss Friday.

Bruce Turnidge and his son, Josh, were found guilty of aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder and other charges Wednesday. They planted a bomb outside the West Coast Bank in Woodburn Dec. 12, 2008 that killed Oregon State Police bomb technician William Hakim and Woodburn police Capt. Tom Tennant. Woodburn police Chief Scott Russell lost a leg.

Their relatives told the jury what life has been like since then during the sentencing hearing for Bruce Turnidge.

The wife of Bill Hakim, Terri, was the first relative to take the stand. She said her husband loved being a father to their son and daughter. They had a dream of building a retirement home in Mexico. She said her husband spoke four languages, was brilliant and enjoyed the challenge of the bomb squad.

“I’m angry that he (Bruce Turnidge) wants the privilege to see his family, and I don’t have that privilege. In fact, I don’t know where Bill is. I feel very lost without my husband,” she said in court as Bruce Turnidge listened.

She said her husband loved being a father to his two children.

“And I just tell them, your dad died doing his job. He didn’t do anything wrong. He did what he was supposed to do. It has nothing to do with what your dad did. It’s the people who built the bomb that killed your dad, not your dad,” she said.

The Turnidges’ defense teams had tried to blame Hakim during the trial for setting off the bomb because of carelessness.

The daughter of Tom Tennant, Rebecca, described the void created after her father was killed.

“It’s really hard. You depend on somebody for so long. When they’re not there, it’s tough,” she said.

Tennant’s wife, Mary, last saw her husband when he left for work that morning. She recounted how she learned about the bomb blast.

“Little did I know that at that time he was already dead,” she said.

The victims’ relatives will have to endure the process again because Bruce and Josh Turnidge are going through separate sentencing hearings. Josh Turnidge’s hearing is expected to be next Wednesday at the earliest. The jury could give the father and son different sentences, choosing the death penalty, life in prison or life with the possibility of parole after 30 years.