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Verdict in for man accused of shooting his wife during argument over marijuana plants
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Steven Turner sits in Hall County Superior Court Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022, during day two of his attempted murder trial. Turner is accused of shooting his wife on Aug. 26, 2020. - photo by Scott Rogers

A man who shot his wife in the stomach during an argument over marijuana plants was found guilty Friday of attempted murder.

In addition to attempted murder, Steven Turner, 45, was also found guilty of aggravated assault, aggravated battery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

On Aug. 26, 2020, Turner shot his then wife, Katie Lawson, during an argument in which she demanded that he remove the dozens of marijuana plants he was growing in her basement. 

Catch up on the trial

Jurors deliberated for about three hours before delivering a guilty verdict on all counts. 

Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin sentenced Turner to 15 years in custody followed by 15 years of probation. 

Assistant District Attorney Patrick Shuler said Turner’s behavior toward Lawson was “barbaric” and malicious but noted that he had no prior convictions, and requested a total of 30 years with 18 served in custody. Defense attorney Amanda Clark Palmer requested 8 years in custody. 

But Gosselin suggested her sentencing must serve as a warning to anyone in the community who might commit violence in the home. 

“Right now the issues of domestic violence cases in particular are so many people in the community have absolutely no idea what goes on in somebody's home,” she said. “That is a continuing problem for that particular victim and for other people in the future, and I have to take that into account when I’m sentencing. I don't want anybody else or Ms. Lawson to ever have to be subjected to that again, and the only way I know how to do that is to fashion a sentence that both punishes and hopes for rehabilitation.”

Gosselin added: “When I sentence a case like this, I try to call on my history of sentencing in similar cases. … Anytime you shoot somebody it’s one of the worst domestic violence cases, unless somebody dies.”

Under the conditions of probation, Turner would be required to attend a family violence intervention program, be evaluated for mental health issues, follow any treatment recommended and stay away from alcohol and drugs. 

Earlier in the trial, Lawson said that Turner drank only occasionally and that the source of his rage and abuse could not be found at the bottom of a bottle.

Gosselin said she was unsure about the role of drugs and alcohol. 

“I don’t know how much that might have played a part in the mental health issues,” she said. “I couldn’t tell from the evidence in this trial.” 

Turner spoke for the first time in the trial and asked for mercy from the court.

“I’m terribly sorry to Katie,” he said. “And I apologize for people being able to see her private life and seeing the problems and seeing my problems. And just to the court and Katie’s family and my family, I apologize. I’m extremely sorry. That is not who I am. I did everything I could to save her life, and I hope that she forgives me and understands that our god is the god of mercy before judgment, and I ask for mercy from the court.”

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Katie Lawson gives testimony Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022, in Hall County Superior Court during day two of her husband Steven Turner's attempted murder trial. Turner is charged with attempted murder after shooting his wife on Aug. 26, 2020. - photo by Scott Rogers

Katie Lawson gave a victim impact statement before sentencing was handed down and suggested that Turner is a danger to women. 

“I just hope that when you're considering the sentencing that you do consider this is not the first time this abuse has happened, that there have been very many instances with his first wife, his second wife and with me,” she said. “It’s a continual, continual violent — violence and abuse of women. He doesn't respect women. He hurts them. He violates them. He put me in such a horrible state for those few years. I thank God that I'm finally out of that.”

Jurors entered into deliberation Friday morning after hearing closing arguments.

“Are we supposed to believe that Mr. Turner wasn’t in control of his body?” the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Shuler, asked jurors when addressing the issue of intent. Throughout the trial, he highlighted conflicting statements from Turner about the shooting. 

The “pivotal moment,” he said, was when Turner pulled the gun out of the drawer, grows more calm and says, “Kate, get away,” right before shooting her. 

“The moment when all of Mr. Turner’s rage and fury crystalized into pure malice,” Shuler said. That moment, he argued, showed that Turner intended to shoot his wife and is therefore guilty of attempted murder. 

Defense attorney Amanda Clark Palmer likewise believed the video was the key to deciding whether Turner was guilty or innocent. But she had a different interpretation. 

She reminded jurors of the “fear and panic” and Turner’s voice immediately after he shot his wife. “That’s not acting, that’s reacting,” she said, arguing that his reaction was evidence that he did not intend to shoot her.

A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the sentencing for Steven Turner. 

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Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin speaks with defense attorney Amanda Palmer and assistant district attorney Patrick Shuler Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, during the attempted murder trial of Steven Noel Turner. - photo by Scott Rogers