NEW BOSTON, Texas–A Texarkana, Texas, man with a history of violence in and out of jail was sentenced to life in prison Monday for strangling his former girlfriend to death in 2021.
A jury of six men and six women found Travis Alston Turner, 29, guilty of murder in the Aug. 12, 2021, killing of Jennifer Rose Garrett late Friday afternoon. They returned Monday to hear additional witnesses and arguments concerning the punishment Turner should receive. Jurors deliberated about 15 minutes before returning a maximum life sentence and assessing a maximum $10,000 fine.
First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp, who prosecuted Turner along with Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards, said Turner killed in a “senseless act of domestic rage.”
“Today, Turner’s heinous actions were rightfully met with the maximum sentence allowed under Texas law,” Crisp told TXK Today. “While nothing can bring Jennifer back to her family and friends, we hope that today’s lengthy sentence delivers a measure of justice for them. As always, I am grateful to the men and women of the Texarkana Texas Police Department for their outstanding work in this case and so many others.”
Garrett, 29, had dated Turner off-and-on since high school and had given him a place to live after he assaulted his mother and was banned from her home near the end of July 2021, witnesses testified. Garrett generously provided Turner with shelter and food while he constantly degraded and demeaned her, in text messages shown at trial.
Turner’s relationships with family members, particularly his mother, had become violent after his father’s death in January 2021. Witnesses said Turner erroneously believed his father had left him the home where his mother lived on Lakeview in Texarkana, Texas, and that he should have received a greater inheritance than his siblings.
Turner allegedly shot and wounded a man in February 2021 in Texarkana, Arkansas, where charges of terroristic threatening and aggravated assault remain pending. In late July 2021, Turner was arrested by Texarkana, Texas, police after he allegedly physically removed his mother from her home after hitting her in the face and choking her, according to testimony.
A Dallas medical examiner testified Friday that the evidence of strangulation was evident all over Garrett’s face and in her eyes. Her head was covered in pinpoint hemorrhages caused when circulation is repeatedly disrupted. Dr. Elizabeth Ventura testified. Scratch marks on Turner’s chest were photographed and shown to the jury as proof that Garrett attempted to fight him off during the brutal attack.
Turner was standing five feet from Garrett’s body when he turned away co-workers who came to her apartment on Summerhill Place in Texarkana, Texas, late on the morning of Aug. 12, 2021. Turner told them Garrett hadn’t come home the night before but they were suspicious because her car was there and her phone was pinging inside. When Turner left to pick up lunch, the friends made entry, discovered her body and called police.
District Judge John Tidwell had to pause proceedings in the courtroom Monday morning because of Turner’s verbal outbursts during witness testimony. His behavior since his arrest on the day of Garrett’s murder has resulted in injuries to jail and transport officers and concern for the safety of staff and observers in court.
Security concerns were so high during the trial that Turner was shackled and his chains were bolted to the floor. Crisp expressed particular gratitude to Bowie County Sheriff Jeff Neal and his deputies, many of whom have experienced Turner’s volatile and aggressive behavior.
“Due to the enhanced security concerns, the BCSO provided additional support all last week and today to make sure the court participants, jury and the public were safe,” Crisp said. “When Turner is transported to and from court appearances he is assaultive and combative. After the guilty verdict Friday, he threatened transport Officer Gary Whiteside.”
Turner is expected to be transferred as soon as possible to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice from the Bowie County jail.