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Inmate sentenced for weapon charge



Published: Wed, August 28, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Prosecutors said Ronnie Turney should get the maximum sentence -- five years -- for having a deadly weapon in his prison cell.

Turney, however, saw things differently.

"I shouldn't get no years," he said while chewing on his left thumbnail.

Judge Maureen A. Cronin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court settled on a four-year sentence.

It took a jury less than one hour Tuesday to convict Turney of one count of possessing of a deadly weapon in a detention facility. The judge sentenced him immediately.

Turney, 28, was an inmate at the Ohio State Penitentiary's super-maximum security facility on state Route 616 in November 2000.

While he was locked up there, prison guards found a homemade knife in his cell. It was made out of a piece of hard plastic Turney had broken off a food tray and had a cloth handle made out of a torn bed sheet.

Prison officials testified during the trial that the knife, known as a shank, was found during a routine search of Turney's cell. It was under a pile of garbage, next to his toilet.

"If he'd actually used it on someone, this could have been a lot worse," said Assistant Prosecutor Kelly Johns.

Defendant's claims

In his opening statement, defense attorney James Vivo urged the five-woman, seven-man jury to "look beyond the obvious" and not assume that Turney is guilty.

Turney did not testify during the trial but said after the verdict that he was framed by prison guards who had it in for him. Vivo said it was Turney's decision to not testify.

Leaning back in his chair, chewing on his fingernails, Turney said the knife was in someone else's cell, not his.

"I'm asking you take into consideration that maybe the officers put that [knife] in my cell," he said to Judge Cronin.

Turney is already serving three to 15 years in prison for felonious assault and robbery, for which he was convicted in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court in 1999. The four-year sentence will begin when that sentence ends.

He is incarcerated at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.

bjackson@vindy.com




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