Indianapolis mass murder
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According to the television program America's Most Wanted, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department responded to a 911 call just after 10:00 p.m. They found seven dead victims on main floor, three of whom were children aged 11 and under. The victims were shot with a military-style weapon, police charged.
Witnesses said that two suspects were seen entering the house shortly before the murders were believed to have taken place. Flora Albarran arrived with a friend to pick up her son around 10:00 p.m. Her brother Magno also arrived about the same time. Both noticed that the house lights were out, which they knew was odd. When Flora entered, witnesses said she started screaming and yelled to her friend not to come in. The two suspects were seen leaving through the front door moments later.
Police identified the suspects as James Stewart and Desmond Turner. Stewart was caught the following day and arrested without incident. Turner, who had finished a four-year stint in prison only six months before, was the subject of a widespread manhunt by local, state and federal authorities. He was captured on June 3, two days after the murders, when he turned himself in without incident at a Hardee's restaurant on Indianapolis's east side. Prosecutors charged Turner and Stewart with 7 counts of murder, 7 counts of felony murder, 7 counts of criminal confinement, robbery, burglary, carrying a handgun without a license (Stewart), and unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon (Stewart). Prosecutors originally sought the death penalty against Turner, but eventually dropped that request and only sought a sentence of life without parole in exchange for Turner agreeing to waive his right to a trial by jury and instead be tried before a judge only.
Desmond Turner was convicted of 7 counts of felony murder, 7 counts of criminal confinement, burglary, and robbery; he was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole plus 88 years on November 20, 2009. On September 28, 2011, the Indiana Supreme Court unanimously affirmed Turner's convictions and sentence in full. James Stewart was convicted of 7 counts of felony murder, 6 counts of criminal confinement, robbery, burglary, carrying a handgun without a license, and found him to be a habitual offender; he was sentenced to 425 years in prison on January 6, 2010. On April 18, 2011, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed all of Stewart's convictions and sentences except for the one robbery conviction and resulting 4 year sentence, which it vacated because that conviction violated the constitutional protections against double jeopardy. The opinion left Stewart with a 425-year aggregate sentence. The Indiana Supreme Court denied review of the Stewart appeal on September 28, 2011, the same day it rejected Turner's appeal.
There was a buyer, a single man, for the house. But before he could move in there was a fire. The house on 560 North Hamilton Ave. was set on fire two years later in an arson attack on August 23, 2008.
The seven victims were identified as:
- Emma Valdez, 46
- Alberto Covarrubias, 56, Valdez's husband
- Flora Albarran, 22, Valdez's daughter
- Magno Albarran, 29, Valdez's son, Flora Albarran's brother
- Luis Albarran, 5, Flora Albarran's son
- David Covarrubias, 8 Valdez's son
- Alberto Covarrubias, 11 Valdez's son
- IndyStar.com, "Special Reports: Hamilton Ave. Slayings"
- America's Most Wanted, "Seven Family Members Slain; Manhunt Underway", June 2, 2006
- WTHR.com, "Desmond Turner Surrenders to Police"
- Charging Information
- Affidavit for Probable Cause
- Indianapolis Star, "Prosecutors Wrap Up Case in Hamilton Avenue Slayings", October 22, 2009
- Indianapolis Star, "Hamilton Ave. Victims Honored", June 1, 2007
- IndyStar.com: Justice Watch, "Life Plus 88 Years in Prison for Turner", November 20, 2009
- Turner v. State, No. 49S00-0912-CR-565 (Ind. 2011).
- Indianapolis Star, "Hamilton Ave. Killer Gets 425 Years", January 6, 2010
- Stewart v. State, No. 49A04-1001-CR-48 (Ind. Ct. App. 2011), trans. denied.
- IndyStar.com, "The Seven Victims"