It's now official
A man serving a twenty five year prison sentence in a 2002 DeKalb County murder case could be a free man within a year.
Members of the Tennessee Board of Parole have voted to release 42 year old Melvin Eugene Turnbill to parole supervision. However, prior to release, Turnbill will have to complete a nine to twelve month substance abuse program called "Therapeutic Community", and get a release plan approved. The board also voted that Turnbill receive a substance abuse after-care referral upon leaving prison, and that he be assessed for substance abuse treatment once he is under parole supervision. The assessment will be completed by TDOC staff.
As WJLE first reported almost two weeks ago, parole board member Tim Gobble, after a hearing on Thursday morning May 1, voted to parole Turnbill with the aforementioned conditions. The hearing was held at the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex in Pikeville, where Turnbill is incarcerated. Gobble was not at the prison. He presided by video conference from another location. After the hearing, the file was sent to other parole board members, who reviewed it and cast their votes. Three matching votes were required for a final decision in the case.
In September 2003, Turnbill received a twenty five year sentence after pleading guilty in DeKalb County Criminal Court to facilitating the first degree murder of Joshua Murphy, who was shot and killed in a secluded area in the Laurel Hill Community at the end of Old Eagle Creek Road on Sunday, September 15, 2002. His body was discovered three days later. Officials said Turnbill and a co-defendant, Christopher Nicholas Orlando suspected Murphy of stealing methamphetamine. Orlando, the triggerman in the killing, was tried and convicted of the crime by a DeKalb County Criminal Court Jury in April, 2004. Orlando, serving a 45 year prison sentence for facilitation of first degree murder, is incarcerated at the Northeast Correctional Complex in Mountain City, Tennessee. Orlando was denied parole following a hearing in March, 2013. He will be up for parole again in 2016.
Turnbill's sentence is due to expire on October 15, 2022. He has served eleven years and seven months of the term. This was Turnbill's second parole hearing. He was denied release two years ago following his last hearing due to the seriousness of the offense.
In making his plea for parole, Turnbill told Gobble that he has a new outlook on life. "I believe I have changed. I believe my attitude has changed. I know for sure that I'm not going back in any kind of drug activity. I know I can honestly say that. I just wish I could be given a second chance," said Turnbill.