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Assistant public defender dies at Dawson County courthouse

A longtime fixture of Northeast Georgia's judicial system died suddenly at the Dawson County Courthouse on Friday, according to Stephen Gurr, a senior investigator in the Hall County Public Defender office.

Officials said David Turk, an assistant public defender for the Northeastern Judicial Circuit, died from a massive heart attack shortly before noon Sept. 14 in a courthouse elevator. He was 63.

"He was truly one of a kind," said Brad Morris, the public defender for the Northeastern Circuit, who knew Turk for 30 years. "Very bright, caring, with a loving heart. Anyone who was around David for a significant period grew to relish these qualities. David's essence was deep."

Turk, a native of Gray, graduated from Mercer Law School and was an assistant district attorney under then-District Attorney Andrew Fuller in the late 1980s. Turk went on to work for a statewide drug prosecution unit.

In 1992, Turk was appointed by Gov. Zell Miller to serve as the first district attorney for the Enotah Judicial Circuit, which encompasses White, Lumpkin, Towns and Union counties. He served in that position until 1994.

Turked worked as a private practice attorney in Northeast Georgia throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, until his appointment as the first full-time juvenile court judge for the Enotah Circuit, a position he held for six years.

Turk returned to private practice in 2010, before going to work as an assistant public defender in Dawson County in 2016. He served in that role until his death.

Turk, who earned his undergraduate degree at Young Harris College and was valedictorian of Jones County High School, was active in Rotary and the Masons.

He is survived by his wife, Evi; daughters, Julie and Chrissy; mother, Ruby; two siblings; and three grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 18 at Clinton United Methodist Church in Gray. A memorial in Northeast Georgia is planned for a later date.