A Jacksonville man who served jail time on second-degree murder charges is now trying to change the lives of other teenagers who may make the same mistakes he did.
Darrell Turner, 22, was convicted in 2009 when he was just 16 years old. Because he cooperated, he served about two years in jail before being released in 2011.
On Thursday, he announced his first initiative to help fight crime locally.
"I don't want to see them up here in a box or downtown in a jail cell," Turner said.
He doesn't want Jacksonville teenagers to end up in the same situation he did after being convicted of killing 19-year-old Adrian Floyd. Since then, Turner has been able to get his life back on track, and now he wants other teenagers to realize just how many people are hurt by violent crime.
"I watched my mother faint in the courtroom when she heard I was facing 25 to life," Turner said. "So I learned when you take out someone else's loved one, your loved one gets taken out as well."
Turner, who is out on probation, is impacting the lives of Jacksonville kids by spending time with them and steering them in the right direction. He's organizing a Love and Basketball Life Fair at Highlands Middle School on July 26, hoping he can talk one-on-one to teenagers headed for trouble.
"I just say, 'God be with you,' and I hope I can speak with you and change your state of mind," Turner said. "But gun violence is not the way to go."
Turner is backed by his pastor, Tywanne Estell, and business leaders in the community who are bringing in motivational speakers, musical artists and job placement specialists. Organizers said they chose a funeral home to make the announcement on purpose.
"It is not our desire for another young man to find this place as his resting place," Estell said. "It is not our desire for another father, mom or daughter as this place as his resting place."