The basic facts of Terry Turner’s 2021 killing of Adil Dghoughi – that he chased him down and shot him – were never in dispute. The only question was whether the shooting was justified.
On Nov. 2, a Lockhart jury decided it wasn’t, finding the 67-year-old Turner guilty of manslaughter. The jury rejected a charge of murder against Turner, however, disappointing Dghoughi’s family and supporters.
The jury announced its decision after two days of testimony and one day of deliberation. As reported by Skye Sepp of the Statesman, Dghoughi’s family members present for the trial – his mother, Fatiha Haouass, and his brother, Othmane Dghoughi – wept as the verdict was announced.
Dghoughi was killed on Oct. 11, 2021, after the 31-year-old immigrant parked in Turner’s driveway at 3:30am outside the small town of Martindale, just east of San Marcos. Turner told deputies that night that he woke to use the bathroom, saw Dghoughi’s car, grabbed a pistol, and charged out to confront the driver. As he did, Dghoughi accelerated in reverse and pulled backwards into the street. Turner said he came up to the driver’s side window, hit it with his pistol, and fired a bullet through it, into Dghoughi’s brain.
“I just killed a guy,” Turner told a 911 dispatcher moments later. “He pointed a gun at me and I shot.” Investigators found no gun or any other weapon on Dghoughi or in his car when they searched the scene.
Turner gave a fuller account of the killing in an hour’s worth of unexpected testimony on Wednesday. Responding to questions from defense attorney Gerry Morris, Turner recounted grabbing a gun after seeing a car sitting in his driveway. He repeated several times that he was overcome with fear as he charged toward the car and came to the driver’s window. And he again claimed to see a gun though he also said that he couldn’t see anything clearly inside the car.
“I run up to the window and I hit it,” Turner testified. “I’m trying to break the window, I’m trying to get them to leave. … And I see all this movement and I look at the car and out of nowhere I see the end of a gun pointing at me.” Turner testified that he immediately shot through the car window. Then, through the broken glass, he saw Dghoughi slumped forward.
Morris asked Turner how he felt about killing Dghoughi. “Me knowing that I took another person’s life – I’m struggling with that,” he said, as people throughout the courtroom wept. “I’m living every day knowing that I took that away from this young man.”
Later, Caldwell County District Attorney Fred Weber asked Turner if he felt he should suffer consequences for killing Dghoughi. “I saw a gun pointed at me and I took appropriate action,” Turner replied. Weber asked the question again. “I’m gonna have consequences for the rest of my life,” Turner replied. “And there should be no further consequences, yes or no?” Weber pressed. “No, there should be no more consequences,” Turner said.
After Turner’s testimony, Othmane criticized inconsistencies between his trial testimony and the transcript of the 911 call he made on the night of Dghoughi’s killing. “The thing that struck me is he said, ‘I wanted him to leave – no, I didn’t want him to leave – no, I did want him to leave.’ Then, in the 911 call, he said he saw a Spanish guy but today he said, ‘No, I didn’t see anybody, I could only see a shape.’ And he chased my brother, so this is not self-defense anymore.”
Turner is expected to be sentenced today. He is convicted of a second-degree felony punishable by two to twenty years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at austinchronicle.com/opinion.