Suspected car thief pleads not guilty in Ridge crash that killed 5

<p>Suspected car thief Jamel Turner pleaded not guilty today to charges in connection to the Ridge crash that claimed five lives on Valentine&rsquo;s Day.&nbsp;</p>

News 12 Staff

Feb 16, 2018, 10:46 PM

Updated 2,348 days ago


A suspected car thief pleaded not guilty today to charges in connection to the Ridge crash that claimed five lives on Valentine’s Day.
Prosecutors say Jamel Turner, of Bellport, is the reason Middle Country Road in Ridge looked like "the scene of a plane crash." Turner appeared in court confined to a wheelchair and with his neck supported by a brace. Additional and upgraded charges against Turner are expected, according to DA Tim Sini.
Sini sat in on Turner's arraignment as his prosecutors painted the 23-year-old as a career criminal. Turner was described as a member of the Bloods who was driving a stolen 2018 Camaro in excess of 100 mph and appeared to be under the influence of drugs when he crashed. The Camaro crashed into a Mazda so violently that it "exploded," leaving four of the victims in that vehicle burnt beyond recognition. The chain-reaction crash also included an oil truck and another vehicle that the Mazda careened into.  Five people were killed in total, including Turner's passenger.
Sini says Turner has routinely displayed a willingness to disregard the law.
“The defendant, through his own selfish acts, created his own Valentine's Day massacre,” said Sini. “This is an individual who is a confirmed gang member, according to the Suffolk County Police Department. This is an individual who has 10 criminal convictions, this is an individual who is no stranger to law enforcement. We are going to thoroughly investigate this case and ensure that the defendant is held responsible for his actions.”

Turner's friends and family deny that he is a member of the Bloods. His defense attorney, John Halverson, says the alleged gang affiliation is news to him.

“That's the first I've heard of that,” said Halverson. “I don't think it’s relevant to this tragic situation.”
Halverson also added that his client was in the hospital and that he hasn’t had the chance to fully go through the case with him.

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