Jack E. Turner

Jack E. Turner

A Crawford County man accused of killing his stepmother and his 10-year-old half-brother last year is scheduled for trial for the alleged crimes, but a plea offer has been made and he has switched attorneys.

Jack Turner, 21, is set to go on trial in Crawford County Court of Common Pleas in May on homicide and related charges filed by Pennsylvania State Police. Turner is accused of killing Shannon Whitman, 49, and Darrin Whitman, 10, at their Randolph Township home on Aug. 10, 2019. 

Turner is charged with two felony counts of homicide, one felony count of burglary, three felony counts of theft and one misdemeanor count of theft in connection with the deaths.

At a brief hearing Wednesday afternoon in which Turner attended, Judge Mark Stevens approved Fred Hummel's formal request to withdraw as Turner's defense attorney in the double-homicide case as well as an associated auto theft case.

Turner is charged by Titusville Police Department with felony counts of theft, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief for allegedly stealing a white 2016 Chevrolet Cruze in Titusville during the early morning hours of Aug. 9, the day prior to the alleged murders.

Last week, Hummel filed motions with the court to withdraw as Turner's attorney in both cases.

At Wednesday's hearing, Hummel told Stevens the filings were made following a meeting with Turner and Turner's family representative on Feb. 4.

At that meeting, Turner "announced he did not trust counsel and he did not represent defendant's best interests," the motions said. "He fired counsel and demanded he withdraw from the case."

Hummel told Stevens communication between Turner and himself was damaged.

Both Hummel and Andrew Natalo, an assistant district attorney for Crawford County, confirmed to Stevens a plea offer had been made to Turner in the double homicide case. Specifics of the offer weren't discussed at Wednesday's hearing, and Hummel and Natalo declined comment following the hearing. Crawford County District Attorney Francis Schultz also declined comment following Wednesday's hearing.

In Hummel's motion to withdraw Turner's attorney, Hummel wrote Turner was given a copy of a letter from Schultz which outlines the plea offer with a deadline and Hummel's response.

Turner "is aware of all aspects of this offer, and has been advised in detail of all discussions between counsel and the district attorney regarding any possible options and of the district attorney's responses," Hummel wrote. The responses could include filing of aggravating circumstances in connection with Turner's homicide case.

Questioned briefly by Stevens, Turner said he understood there were deadlines associated with any plea offer.

Hummel said he was prepared to transfer all discovery material and other case-related materials to Turner's new attorney.

Attorney Michael Waltman of Pittsburgh filed an entry of appearance notice as Turner's new defense attorney with county court on Wednesday. Waltman was not present at Wednesday's hearing.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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