Turell murder case goes to jury
TRENTON — A jury of nine women and three men is deliberating the fate of Ivelis Turell, on trial for the shooting murder of the father of her two sons on April 30, 2007.
After four alternate jurors — all men — were culled out, the remaining 12 started deliberations shortly after 3 p.m., following instructions from Mercer County Superior Court Judge Pedro Jimenez.
The jurors did not reach an immediate verdict and were sent home in time for dinner.
The judge told the jurors they could find Turell, 34, guilty of murder, aggravate manslaughter, reckless manslaughter or not guilty — plus guilty or not guilty of possession of a gun for unlawful purpose.
Earlier in the day, the defense said the death of Mike Whitaker was the result of an accidental shooting, but the prosecutor insisted she planned the murder of Whitaker.
To hear defense lawyer Steve Slaven tell it, Turell was trapped in an abusive relationship and shot Whitaker as both tussled for control of a 9mm Ruger in the bedroom of their home on Ferry Street.
Assistant Mercer Prosecutor Skylar Weissman told the jurors Turell planned the killing, as evidenced by the agreement about paying credit card bills she wrote two days before telling Whitaker he could leave her if he signed it.
“In closing,” said Weissman, “Mike Whitaker met his demise at the hand of a defendant who had planned this. You can leave if you sign this. When he did not sign, she fatally shot him.”