SALEM, Ore. – The judge in the Woodburn bank bombing trial sentenced the father and son convicted of planting a bomb that killed two law enforcement officers to death Monday.
Bruce Turnidge and his son, Josh, offered not a word of remorse or apology but where defiant before the judge and claimed they were innocent of the crimes a jury convicted them of last month.
Josh Turnidge spoke first to the judge, saying he had sympathy for the victims but he was not to blame. He was followed by his father, Bruce, who spoke for 15 minutes, claiming police planted evidence.
“How stupid do they think we are?” Bruce Turnidge said. “Obviously, they think we’re pretty stupid if we’re going to buy this kind of garbage. That wrapper wasn’t there. Everybody knows that wrapper wasn’t there. Somebody planted that wrapper in that shop three months later. Only two groups of people had access to that wrapper, the people that originally put it at the river or law enforcement. And you can take your pick as to which one put it there. My bet’s on law enforcement.”
The father and son were followed by family members of the bombing victims, Woodburn Police Capt. Tom Tennant and Oregon State Police bomb technician Bill Hakim, who were both killed when the device went off while they were attempting to dismantle it in December 2008. Woodburn Police Chief Scott Russell lost a leg.
Russell spoke about the damage the father and son did in the short and long term.
“The murder of Capt. Tennant was more than a loss of an outstanding police officer and divisional commander,” Russell said. “It was a loss of a great friend.”
The judge blasted the Turnidges, especially Bruce for coming up with his conspiracy theory, and enumerated the extensive evidence against them and then sentenced them to death.
Juror Steve Salisbury said the state’s evidence against the men was just so overwhelming the jury’s decision to find them guilty was easy. There were also two moments that were telling.
Salisbury, a 35-year-old DMV worker who had never had jury duty until the Turnidge trial, said the day prosecutors introduced a piece of plywood found on Bruce Turnidge’s property was one of those moments. The plywood had green spray paint on it shaped in the exact outline of the bomb.
The other moment came when Josh Turnidge took the stand in his defense. He was asked on cross-examination about a couple of things he’d said about police officers in prison. He had said that female prison guards resembled farm animals.
“Had Bruce or Josh shown remorse, it would have done nothing to change – it factored no way into my decision,” Salisbury said. “It was based truly off evidence and testimony and the way they were.”
He said the jury followed the judge’s instructions which led them to sentence Bruce and Josh Turnidge to death. He said the jury believes the men would be a danger in the general prison population because they would share their knowledge and beliefs with inmates who upon release could do harm.
So the jury decided death row is the best place for the Turnidges where, Salisbury said, they won’t be able to preach their anti-government beliefs or have contact with dangerous inmates.