Case dismissed against convenience store shooter

Published 4:44 pm Tuesday, January 30, 2018

BEAUMONT — A man indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury in August 2016 for criminally negligent homicide had his case dismissed Monday.

The penalty against Michael Turner, 68, for criminally negligent homicide would have been a state jail felony with a maximum of two years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The News reported Shalala Fletcher was fatally shot July 2 outside a Port Arthur convenience store, the Express Mart, in the 2900 block of Jimmy Johnson Boulevard.

District Attorney Bob Wortham said his office didn’t want an obstructed verdict.

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“We hired a lawyer out of Houston who has worked 19 capital murders and he has 19 convictions. He researched it and said we can’t win it,” he said. “We didn’t want to put the family through it again. We filed for dismissal.”

The family, however, won a civil matter about the shooting settled. Local news media reported the family originally sought a $1 million wrongful death lawsuit but instead received $100,000 in a civil suit in December 2016.

According to police, Turner, an off-duty security guard, pulled into the Express Mart and saw two people run out of the store with beer, being chased by a store clerk. The suspected thieves ran to a car where Fletcher was a passenger.

The security guard said he tried to disable the car by shooting at the tires and one of the rounds hit and killed Fletcher.

The car went about a block to the Community Bank parking lot, 2901 Turtle Creek Drive, where it was abandoned, leaving behind the deceased Fletcher.

Autopsy results show Fletcher had cocaine, marijuana and Xanax in her system.

Wortham added that according to Texas law, there’s a special provision with the right to use deadly force at nighttime when someone is stealing property and the person thinks they will get away.

The Rev. Kalan Gardner, president of the Port Arthur chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said he was very disappointed with the dismissal.

“We wanted the DA to prosecute this all the way fully,” Gardner said. “I plan to talk to some city leaders and pastors to get some questions answered why this case was dismissed.

“We may need some changes to the DA’s office. We vote for that position. We want justice for all. Our message is you can’t do this.”

Gardner and a group of pastors and a political action committee assembled at the Jefferson County Courthouse in August 2016 to have questions answered about the shooting and hold a press conference.

Scott Renick, Turner’s attorney, said it was a very complicated case legally and factually and also a very tragic case.

“There’s no winners here,” he said. “Mr. Turner operated within the parameters of handgun laws in the state of Texas. He wanted to help, not hurt.

“I can’t speak for the DA, but he’s extremely knowledgeable and the law was not broken for why the case was dismissed.”

Renick said though the grief can’t be compared to what the Fletcher’s family has gone through, his client is not elated over the decision because the loss of a human life weighs very heavy on him