An Arizona man accused of killing his 17-year-old stepdaughter, Alyssa Turney, has walked free after a judge acquitted him of all charges in the case based on a lack of evidence.
Michael Turney, 75, breathed a sigh of relief as shocked family members broke down in tears hoping for justice when the verdict came down in a Maricopa County courtroom Monday morning, just over a week after testimony.
Turney was on trial for second-degree murder in the presumed death of her stepdaughter who disappeared in May 2001. His body was never found.
Prosecutors argued that Turney and Alyssa had a tumultuous relationship and had hundreds of surveillance tapes of him trying to control her life. But the defense pushed back, saying there was no evidence he was dead.
After the prosecution rested its case, the judge granted the defense’s motion to dismiss the murder charge against Turney, citing Rule 20, which allows the court to issue an acquittal if ‘there is insufficient evidence to support a conviction.’
Sarah Turney, Alyssa’s half-sister and Turney’s own daughter, who was a key witness in the trial and whose social media campaign for justice helped lead to his arrest in 2020, left court without speaking to reporters.
Michael Turney, 75, breathed a sigh of relief after a judge acquitted him of charges related to the presumed death of his stepdaughter, Alyssa Turney, based on a lack of evidence in the case.
Alyssa, pictured, was last seen in May 2001 at her north Phoenix home after the last day of her junior year at Paradise Valley High School. His body is not found
Earlier on Monday, the defense asked the judge to issue an acquittal based on what it said was a lack of evidence, claiming there was evidence that Alisa had run away or that she was even dead.
Alyssa was last seen in May 2001 at her Phoenix home on the last day of her junior year at Paradise Valley High School.
She told her boyfriend at school that her stepfather was picking her up for lunch. Michael Turney reported him missing, but told authorities he left a note saying he was fleeing to California.
Alisa could not be found.
In 2008, investigators re-interviewed witnesses and served a search warrant at Turney’s home. The search led to the discovery of more than two dozen unregistered pipe bombs owned by Turney. He served time for that crime and was released in 2017.
Alyssa’s sister, Sarah Turney, who has tried to draw attention to the case through social media, testified last week against her own father and told the court how he brainwashed her into thinking Alyssa was a rebellious teenager who had run away to California.
But over the years, Sarah said she grew suspicious of her own father and her version of what happened that day changed each time, leading her to search for her own answers.
When she met her father in 2017 and pressed him for an explanation, he wouldn’t give it to her.
‘He told me he would tell me on his deathbed,’ Sarah recalled, adding that he would confess to everything if the state agreed to give him a lethal injection within 10 days.’
He spoke to the court about the troubled relationship between Turney and Alisa.
Sarah was just 12 years old when her sister Alisa disappeared on the last day of school in May 2001. Her social media campaign for justice over the years led to the arrest of her own father, Michael Turney, in 2020, though not a body. found
Michael Turney is on trial for second-degree murder in the death of his stepdaughter Alyssa Turney, 17, who has been missing since May 2001 when he picked her up early from school.
Alyssa, 17, was last seen on May 17, 2001. He was presumed dead but his body was never found.
Michael Turney, 75, was charged with second-degree murder in the presumed death of his stepdaughter Alyssa Turney, 17, who disappeared in 2001. Photo: Turney is wheeled in during opening statements July 6 in Maricopa County Court in Phoenix
When police executed a search warrant at the home in 2008, they found videotapes from the 1980s, including surveillance footage from the home, but no video from the day she disappeared.
In opening statements last week, the prosecution revealed how Turney filmed Alyssa in their home and how he had hundreds of surveillance videos.
Turnio tapped Alyssa’s phone and allegedly made her sign a contract in which she said she never sexually assaulted her, the prosecution claimed.
The jury later heard from Alice’s half-brother John Turney and Alice’s half-brother James Turney. But a judge ruled that the jury could not hear testimony from James that Alyssa had told him about an alleged incident in which Turney put his hand on her leg, attempted something, causing her to scream and run away.
The defense has argued that there is no DNA or blood evidence that proves Turney killed Alisa. They also point out that without a body, there is no definitive proof that Alyssa is still alive.
Sarah shared videos of the haunted house on social media and started a podcast called ‘Voices for Justice’ – which started as a platform for Alisa then turned into an outlet to help other victims.
Sarah Turney is pictured with her father, celebrating her 18th birthday at Disneyland.
In May 2020, he started making videos on TikTok that focused on the case
In 2019, he started his own podcast, ‘Voices for Justice’, which details their family history, a timeline of Alisa’s disappearance and what happened in the years since.
In May 2020, he started making videos on TikTok that focused on the case.
‘Believe it or not, it became an important outlet for Alice’s story,’ he told NBC.
‘I’ve gotten more interest in this field from this app in the last month than in the last 10 years.
‘It’s not going away and I’m going to make sure it never is. I still remember her as my tough big sister who taught me to be tough.
‘Now, I have to be tough and use it to fight for the justice she deserves.
‘He deserves his day in court. And I’m determined to give him that.’
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