AMARILLO, Texas–A man sentenced to life last year for strangling his girlfriend to death in her Texarkana apartment has allegedly killed his cellmate at a Texas prison unit in Amarillo, according to an unofficial source with knowledge of the investigation.
Travis Alston Turner, 30, was found guilty by a Bowie County jury last year of murder in the Aug. 12, 2021, death of 29-year-old Jennifer Rose Garrett. A Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice spokesperson declined to confirm that Turner is suspected of killing his cellmate. However, TDCJ Communications Director Amanda Hernandez did identify 34-year-old Antwan Alexander as the victim and said that his cellmate is believed to be responsible for the death.
Alexander was serving a three-year term for harassment of a public servant out of Tarrant County, Hernandez said. The charge is typically levied against individuals who cause a bodily fluid, such as saliva, to contact the person of a member of law enforcement or a correctional facility staff member.
Hernandez said that staff at the Bill Clements Unit in Amarillo observed Alexander “in his cell with injuries consistent with a physical assault” shortly after 6 p.m. Monday and that life-saving measures were attempted.
Turner has not been formally charged in connection with Alexander’s death and he has not been identified as the suspect by prison officials.
If the Office of Inspector General, which handles investigations into criminal activity in Texas prisons, determines there is probable cause to charge Turner, they will likely turn their investigative file over to the Potter County District Attorney’s Office for further proceedings.
Under Texas law, an offender who commits murder while serving time for murder may be charged with capital murder, the most serious offense listed in the state’s penal code. Capital murder is punishable in the Lone Star State by death or life without the possibility of parole. Defendants convicted of first-degree murder face a punishment range of five to 99 years or life in prison with parole possible.
Murder defendants serving life in Texas are typically eligible for parole after serving 30 years. TDCJ’s website currently shows that Turner is eligible for parole in the Bowie County case Aug. 12, 2051, which is 30 years from the date he was arrested for killing Garrett. Eligibility for parole is not a guarantee that parole will be granted.
After being arrested for Garrett’s murder in 2021, Turner fought with officers who were executing search warrants that allowed them to collect his DNA and photograph his body for evidence of a struggle, according to filings made by prosecutors in advance of his jury trial. Jailers and deputies in Bowie County found Turner a particularly difficult detainee to deal with, records show.
“Attempts to remove the defendant from his cell, for any purpose, generally results in a use of force by the jail staff,” a motion to keep Turner restrained at trial said. “On Dec. 21, 2021, the defendant assaulted Sgt. Stephen Driksell and CO Devonte Kenney. The defendant used a closed fist to repeatedly strike each of these officers in the head and face.”
Turner’s alleged jailhouse violence had led a Bowie County jail supervisor to order staff to take protective actions when dealing with Turner, including outfitting in protective gear and bringing additional officers whenever he had to be taken out of his cell.
Turner’s conviction and sentence were recently upheld by the Texas Sixth District Court of Appeals.