Trial of Man Who Killed Fleeing Immigrant South of Austin Is Under Way

Adil Dghoughi’s mother Fatiha Haouass (l) and brother Othmane Dghoughi at a 2021 press conference (Photo by John Anderson)

Fatiha Haouass has flown in from Morocco to seek justice for her son, Adil Dghoughi, just as she did in the weeks after Dghoughi’s killing in 2021. She and Adil’s brother, Othmane, have rented a hotel room near the Caldwell County courthouse in Lockhart to attend the trial of Terry Turner, accused of murdering Adil.

The trial began on Monday and is expected to conclude at the end of the week. “She’s very stressed, but we’re holding up,” Othmane told the Chronicle. “We’re keeping our faith that we’ll be hearing something positive in the next few days.”

It’s been two years since Oct. 11, 2021, when Dghoughi, a 31-year-old immigrant working as a rideshare driver, found himself in an unfamiliar driveway at 3:30am outside the small town of Martindale, just east of San Marcos. In a statement to police, Turner said he woke to use the bathroom that night, saw Dghoughi’s car, grabbed a pistol, and charged out to confront the driver. Turner chased the car as it accelerated in reverse, came to the driver’s side window, 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 when they searched the scene. Instead, according to an affidavit from the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office, they saw that the doors to Dghoughi’s car were locked and the windows were up. According to his family, the investigators found Dghoughi’s phone opened to a navigation app, with the address of his girlfriend’s apartment – just three miles from Turner’s home – entered in the search field. They believe he was merely lost that night.

After the killing, media accounts prominently mentioned a “suspicious vehicle,” implying that Dghoughi had been trying to break into Turner’s house. Othmane and Sarah Todd, Adil’s girlfriend, said that also seemed to be the perspective of Caldwell County investigators, who told them that Adil’s shooting might have been justified and asked questions suggesting that he was the perpetrator, instead of the victim, of a crime.

Othmane described talking with the investigators in 2021: “The interview was like an interrogation about my brother. They were trying to justify the shooting more than trying to give my brother his rights. They were asking me, ‘Does he hate women?’ Or asking, ‘How is he when he drinks?’”

Fearing that Caldwell County was preparing to sweep the shooting under the rug, Othmane and Todd contacted media outlets. After a story about the killing appeared on CNN, the Sheriff’s Office finally arrested Turner, 10 days after he killed Dghoughi.

Criminal justice advocates Mano Amiga, who helped Othmane and Todd publicize the case, have drawn attention to the disparate treatment that Turner received as a murder suspect. After his arrest, his bond was set at $150,000, less than a fourth of what another Caldwell County resident was required to pay in a murder case one month prior. But Dghoughi’s mother and brother are relieved that the grand jury did indict Turner – they had thought it might not – and they’ve been pleased by the commitment to the case that District Attorney Fred Weber has shown. “He is doing a good job,” Othmane said. “We’re staying positive. We’ll see.”

On Tuesday, the D.A.’s team alerted Haouass and Othmane that they were about to present pictures of the crime scene.

“They were going to present some very graphic things, pictures of my brother and the car,” Othmane said. “They said his blood is there. I told them we don’t want to see it. So whenever they got ready to show them they told us so we could get out of the court.”

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