D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert M. Scott yesterday sentenced two more of the eight young men convicted by a jury of robbing and murdering Catherine Fuller to maximum prison terms of 35 years to life, while giving another defendant a slightly shorter sentence because even though, the judge said, he was as "guilty as can be," he, unlike the others, had no criminal record.
"You will be under 50 when you get out," Scott told 20-year-old Christopher D. Turner in sentencing him to 27 1/2 years to life in prison, the first defendant to receive less than the maximum sentence. "You will have a chance to do something then."
"Let him be committed," Scott instructed the U.S. marshals. To Turner, who earlier argued forcibly that he was innocent of Fuller's murder, Scott said: "Let me also say I have no question about your guilt . . . . You're as guilty as can be of the charges and don't try to convince me."
"I'm not trying to convince you," Turner answered. "There's been too much revenge."
Turner, also known as "Chrissie," earlier stood with his arms folded across his chest and told the judge that it was not in his character to do something like the crime for which he was convicted.
Turner's sentence was 7 1/2 years less than the maximum sentence that Scott imposed yesterday on Turner's older brother Charles (Fella) Turner, 22, and on Russell (Bobo) Overton, 27. Overton and the older Turner will be eligible for parole in 35 years, while Christopher Turner will be eligible for parole in 27 1/2 years.
Scott previously sentenced two defendants to maximum sentences. Still awaiting sentencing are three defendants convicted by a jury last year, and two young men who pleaded guilty to reduced charges as part of plea bargains.
After the sentencing, as police officers, court officials and spectators milled outside the courtroom, an elderly woman approached Turner's lawyer Robert DeBerardinis and castigated him.
"Chrissie, Chrissie, Chrissie, baby," she shouted, circling an obviously embarrassed DeBerardinis, "who are you going to kill today?"
A jury in December convicted the eight young men of first degree murder, kidnaping and armed robbery in the Oct. 1, 1984, beating death of Fuller, a petite mother of six who was attacked while shopping, dragged into a Northeast alley and pummeled to death as a group of young persons attempted to steal her coin purse. Police estimate that as many as two dozen people may have witnessed the death.
Asking Scott for leniency yesterday, Turner's lawyer DeBerardinis recalled trial testimony about Turner's involvement in the community and said that Turner, the only high school graduate of the defendants, was not a "man beyond redemption."
During the nearly two-month trial, Turner maintained that he had been elsewhere on the day that Fuller was killed and produced a string of witnesses, including school teachers and elderly community workers, who testified that his reputation was excellent.
The jury first reported it was unable to reach a verdict on Christopher Turner and Overton, and deliberated for two extra days before returning guilty verdicts against them. Some jurors said later that they voted "40 to 50" times on the two, but did not explain what caused the initial impasse.
Turner yesterday criticized the prosecution's case against him and said "it was wrong" that the government would not administer a lie detector test or give him "truth serum" as he requested. At one point, his lawyer appeared to try to caution him about his statements.
Prosecutor Jerry Goren's "witnesses were no better than my witnesses," Turner said, and Judge Scott quickly snapped: "Evidently the jury believed they were."
Five witnesses had placed Turner in the alley during Fuller's beating, and a clearly angered Goren said yesterday that three additional people -- including three others arrested -- had implicated Turner in statements to the police.
"I am somewhat amazed about Mr. Turner's treatment as to how he was convicted," Goren said.
But Goren reserved his harshest words for Overton and Charles Turner, who also maintained their innocence. Goren, joined in the courtroom by U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova, described Overton as the defendant "with the most extensive criminal history," including three robbery convictions, and said that he was identified as the person who dragged Fuller into the garage where another defendant "mutilated her body."
Goren said that Charles Turner was the person who tricked Fuller into stopping, and first pushed her into the alley. Several witnesses, Goren said, testified that Charles Turner held Fuller down while another defendant assaulted her with a pole.
"If that isn't cold and deliberate, then I don't know what is," Goren said.
Charles Turner, who shocked spectators when he took the stand during the trial and contradicted an alibi provided by his mother, appeared confused again yesterday, after his lawyer Lloyd Elsten told Judge Scott that Turner was a PCP addict. Elsten asked the judge to consider this in a sympathetic light in determining Turner's sentence.
Scott then turned to Turner and asked if he had anything to say.
"I don't have anything to say except I'm innocent," said Turner, "and I'm not an addict as my lawyer has stated."