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Attorney appeals Turner’s sentence; Ford: Court didn’t enforce victim’s rights

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An attorney is asking an appeals court to review Bowen Gray Turner’s sentence for first-degree assault and battery.

Turner, 19, of Orangeburg, pleaded guilty on April 8.

Circuit Judge Markley Dennis sentenced him under the Youthful Offender Act not to exceed six years, suspended to five years of probation. The probation term may not be shortened.

The S.C. Law Enforcement Division originally charged him with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, but he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge instead.

Turner was 16 when he assaulted 17-year-old Chloe Bess outside the site of a party in Orangeburg County on June 2, 2019.

Bess’ attorney, Sarah Ford, of the S.C. Victim Assistance Network, filed a notice of appeal on Monday. The network represents the accusers in incidents.

Ford claims an appeals court needs to review Turner’s sentence because Bess wasn’t allowed to “have her statement meaningfully considered prior to the court’s consideration” of Turner’s proposed guilty plea.

The attorney alleges the court refused to consider a motion to “enforce victim’s rights,” as protected by the S.C. Constitution.

Ford also claims the court refused to sign her paperwork seeking information on why Turner’s alleged bond violations weren’t reported.

Court records show over 50 alleged violations between November 2021 and February 2022 alone, based on his GPS monitoring device.

Bess, through her attorney, Ford, filed a pre-hearing motion asking the court to take Turner into custody due to the alleged bond violations.

Ford claims the court refused to take the motion into consideration.

At the start of Turner’s hearing on April 8, Dennis addressed Ford, saying that she should’ve filed her motions four days before the hearing instead of three.

In her filing on Monday, Ford said, “there is no known rule addressing the time requirements” of the pre-sentencing motions she filed.

An attempt to reach Turner’s attorney, state Sen. Brad Hutto, for comments about Ford’s appeal on Monday wasn’t returned by press time.

Turner was out on bond on a charge of first-degree criminal sexual conduct when he assaulted Bess.

He was accused of assaulting 17-year-old Dallas Hayes Stoller at a party in Bamberg County on Oct. 7, 2018.

Stoller’s family said she died following a self-inflicted injury on Nov. 14, 2021 in Bluffton.

The 2nd Circuit Solicitor’s Office dropped Turner’s charge in that case due to Stoller’s death.

Turner must serve a true five-year probation while also adhering to the S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services conditions for sex offenders.

In Dennis’ sentencing of Turner, he stipulated that if Turner violates any of those conditions during his five-year probation, he’s required to register as a sex offender.

Contact the writer: mbrown@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5545. Follow on Twitter: @MRBrownTandD

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