Dusty was convicted of first degree murder and abduction in the 1995 death of Jennifer Evans. He was sentenced to 82 years in prison. With no parole in the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is a life sentence.
At the time of the crime Dusty was a Navy SEAL trainee, three weeks away from receiving his trident and being deployed with SEAL Team 4. Billy Joe Brown was Dusty's "swim buddy" in SEAL training. During training they were not allowed to be more than six feet away from one another. They spent much of their time out of training together as well. Dusty and Billy were together the night of Jennifer's death. On the night of Jennifer's death Dusty and Billy were together at The Bayou, a nightclub in Virginia Beach, VA. Jennifer Evans was at The Bayou with two girlfriends, they were vacationing in Virginia Beach. Jennifer introduced herself to Dusty and they spent most of the evening talking to one another. At approximately 1:15am Jennifer's friends wanted to leave. Jennifer convinced her friends to let her stay at the club with Dusty until closing. Dusty secured a ride back to the barracks for Billy Brown. Not having much time to do anything Dusty and Jennifer sat in Dusty's car listening to music and talking. Billy was heavily intoxicated and became agitated when he had to wait for his ride to take him home. Billy exited the club and walked out into the parking lot and directly to Dusty's car. He knocked on the window and Jennifer opened her door to let Billy in the back seat. Dusty urged Jennifer to ignore Billy because he was very inebriated. Billy made a few crude comments to Jennifer and then ran his fingers through her hair. Jennifer turned around and slapped his hand, Billy reached around the seat and put Jennifer in a choke hold. Dusty tried to pry Billy's arms off of Jennifer. When Billy let go, Jennifer was dead. Billy screamed at Dusty to drive, in a state of shock and fear Dusty drove to a park where the men hid her body. Jennifer's friends returned to the club and were unable to find Jennifer. They ultimately notified authorities and a frantic search began to find the bright and beautiful Jennifer Evans.
Over the course of the next eight days Dusty and Billy denied knowing what had happened to Jennifer, they said they left her at The Bayou waiting for her girlfriends to pick her up. After taking a polygraph exam, Dusty was asked to consider what Jennifer's family and friends were feeling not knowing what had happened to Jennifer. After asking to speak to his warrant officer and being assured everything would be okay, Dusty told the police what happened the night Jennifer died. He took authorities to Jennifer's remains and turned his car over to the police voluntarily without a warrant. After Jennifer's body was found Dusty and his warrant officer returned to the Naval base in Little Creek, VA. Detectives went back to Billy Joe Brown and showed him a map that Dusty drew explaining where Jennifer's body could be found. Billy began telling a series of stories, first saying he and Dusty killed Jennifer together and then saying that when he arrived at the car Jennifer was already deceased. With virtually no further investigation Dusty was arrested the next morning at Little Creek Amphibious Base, both men pointing their finger at the other. The police did not examine Dusty's car, a small Geo Storm, to determine whether or not the crime could have occurred the way Billy said it did. If they had, they would have discovered there was no way that the description Billy gave could have been true. The police spent 48 man hours pulling forensic evidence from Dusty's car. None of this evidence was used against Dusty at trial because none of it supported Billy's story. No character witnesses were called to testify. Dusty's mother told his lawyers that she had received 43 phone calls during the eight day period Jennifer was missing. Dusty told his mother that he didn't want to be around Billy Brown and didn't know what to do. Dusty's mother, Linda did not know anything had happened and she thought he was home sick. After being told of the murder she was able to get the phone records detailing all of the calls. Dusty's lawyers never called her to the stand. Dusty's lawyers said many times that if jurors looked at Dusty's handsome face that they would find him innocent. Conversely, during closing arguments, one prosecutor asked jurors to determine whether Dusty was sincere in his testimony or if he was a smooth talker with a handsome face.
As early as 1996 Billy Brown was telling people that he alone killed Jennifer Evans. In 1999 a man told Dusty that Billy had confessed to him that he lied at trial and Dusty had no part in the crime outside of being an accessory after the fact. In 2002, Billy signed an affidavit saying he alone killed Jennifer. In 2008, Billy testified at an evidentiary hearing to the same thing. The judge who heard Billy's testimony ruled it credible and Dusty's conviction was overturned. The Commonwealth of Virginia appealed this decision and it was upheld by the Supreme Court of Virginia. Also, it's important to note that in 2005 Alan Reed, the jury foreman for Dusty's trial wrote a letter in support of Dusty's release. He said that the majority of the jury didn't believe Dusty was guilty of murder. He said they didn't want him to walk out of the courtroom without further punishment for being an accessory after the fact. At the time of the crime, being an accessory after the fact was a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. With Dusty's appeals being exhausted his one chance for freedom is if Virginia's Governor grants him a pardon. Dusty currently has a petition of conditional pardon being considered by Governor Northam's administration.
We have studied Dusty's case in depth and strongly believe in his innocence. Dusty has been incarcerated for 22+ years for a crime another man confessed to committing. We urge Governor Northam to grant Dusty's petition of conditional pardon.
Media bias played a role in Dusty Turner's