‘Far from over’: Family of man found dead near Gitmo plans lawsuit after verdict against Navy captain
Capt. John Nettleton was found guilty of covering up details of what happened before Christopher Tur’s 2015 death
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the first time since the guilty verdicts, the family of a man who died in Guantánamo Bay sat down with News4Jax to give their side of the story.
Christopher Tur, 42, was found drowned near the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in 2015, after an alcohol-fueled fight with the commander, Capt. John Nettleton.
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At Jacksonville’s federal courthouse on Friday, Nettleton was found guilty of covering up details about what happened leading up to Tur’s death. It was a moment Tur’s family had been waiting for. While they say they’re satisfied that Nettleton was convicted, they think more needs to be done.
“As the charges were read out, it went from tears to some satisfaction that, to some degree, justice was served,” said Mike Tur, Christopher’s brother.
A jury of 12 found Nettleton guilty of six charges related to the coverup of what happened before and after Tur’s death five years ago.
“There are no winners,” said Aline Byrnes, Christopher Tur’s sister. “We lost our brother and John Nettleton is going to jail. Kids are losing their fathers. Parents are losing their son.”
The two-week trial was a rollercoaster for Tur’s family and friends. They sat in the gallery and heard disturbing details about an affair between Nettleton and Tur’s wife, Lara, that led up to a drunken fight on base.
It’s still unclear how Tur ended up dead in the bay. An autopsy found alcohol and Prozac in his system as well as broken ribs and a cut on his forehead.
Nettleton, now retired, testified in his own defense and admitted to an affair and fight but said he didn’t report it right away because he thought Tur was OK and he wanted to protect Tur’s job. But the jury found it was deceitful.
Tur’s family said they believe Christopher would still be alive today if Nettleton reported what happened right away.
“There were failures at so many levels to separate the two, make sure somebody stayed with Christopher and Nettleton to make sure there wasn’t a second clash,” Mike Tur said. “There were officials that could have and should have done something more and they did not.”
The Turs are waiting for a sentencing hearing when they’ll learn how much time Nettleton will spend behind bars.
Their attorney said Monday he’s planning to sue those involved, including Nettleton, Tur’s wife and the base’s public affairs officer.
“A civil suit is coming. It’s against Nettleton and others in their official capacity. What we sat through was two weeks of a trial where a jury found that people were lying and obstructing justice,” said Tur family attorney John Phillips.
The conviction made national headlines, including a full page in the New York Times. The Turs hope the attention will bring accountability.
“We’ve been here for two weeks so we’re ready to go home. But this is far from over. We’re not done,” Byrnes said.
Nettleton’s sentencing hearing hasn’t been set yet, but it will be sometime in the next 90 days.
In the meantime, Nettleton remains out of jail and at home.
The Tur’s hope he and others involved will face a separate trial within the military.
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