Felon scheduled to win award for new job charged in murder

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Justin Turner | Chicago Police

CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - Justin Turner was due to get an award this week for finding a job and not missing a day of work after completing a job training program for felons.

But that streak ended Monday, as the 23-year-old was ordered held without bond on first-degree murder charges, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

Turner gave a 9-millimeter pistol to the gunman who shot 25-year-old Larreese Smith Thursday at Palmer Park, Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Kathryn Roy said at a bond hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, according to the Sun-Times.

Turner’s co-defendant, Keevon Conner, downed Smith with multiple shots, and stood over the fallen teen with the gun, attempting to fire more shots, but the pistol had jammed, Roy said.

Witnesses said Turner and Conner saw Smith and a friend walking as the pair walked to a corner store in the 11000 block of South Martin Luther King Drive that day around 2:30 p.m., Roy said. A surveillance camera showed Conner walking from the convenience store to a barbershop nearby, and another witness overheard Conner and Turner discussing plans to attack Smith, Roy said.

“The witness heard Justin Turner say ‘let’s just get him, let’s just get his ass'” Roy said.

Conner and Turner waited for Smith to leave the store, then a person identified as a witness brought Turner the pistol, which had a distinctive “rail” that could be used to mount a flashlight or laser sight, Roy said. Turner then allegedly gave Connor the gun.

Smith’s friend ran when 30-year-old Conner opened fire, but turned and saw Conner standing over Smith, Roy said.

Police found a pistol inside a grill across the street, holding six bullets, and a cartridge jammed in the chamber. Testing showed the gun matched shell casings left at the shooting scene, Roy said. Turner has three prior gun convictions.

Turner, who was on parole for a 2015 conviction for a weapons charge, had been scheduled to receive an award this week from his halfway house for being the first member of a program that places felons in jobs, Assistant Public Defender Julie Koehler said.

Through a program at the halfway house, a staffing company had found Turner a job at a bakery, Koehler said.

Turner was both the first person in his class in the job placement program to find work, and had perfect attendance at work, Koehler said.