Killer tries to get conviction overturned

Man convicted of killing St. Johns County woman in 2005

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Department of Corrections photo of James Turner

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - Lawyers for a man convicted of first-degree murder in St. Johns County are trying to get his conviction overturned.

James Turner was found guilty in the 2005 stabbing death of Renee Howard.

Prosecutors called it a random crime. They said Turner, who had escaped from a South Carolina jail, stabbed Howard 15 times in front of her children at the Comfort Inn just of Interstate 95 so he could steal her van. He also attacked Howard's friend, who locked herself in the bathroom to get away from him.

Turner was captured hours after the attack following a police chase in which he intentionally wrecked his truck into a deputy's cruiser.

Turner was sentenced to death.

New lawyers say Turner, now 40, should get a new trial because the trial lawyer failed to raise mental health issues in the penalty phase and didn't present sufficient mitigating evidence.

The hearing could last two days.

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