A Fort Stewart soldier charged with one count of felony murder and one count of aggravated assault in connection with a fatal Midway stabbing was denied bond Monday.
Kenneth Turner, 27, has been incarcerated since July in connection with the slaying of Midway resident Benjamin O’Neal, 60. O’Neal was stabbed multiple times at the Cay Creek Wetland Interpretive Center on July 21 and later was pronounced dead at Liberty Regional Medical Center.
“Your honor, he’s been incarcerated since July. We know this is a very serious crime, but we know he has no criminal record, and it will be our contention that this is self-defense,” Turner’s attorney, public defender John W. Ely, said. “He does have a place to live. He lives in Midway with his girlfriend, who is pregnant. He is still in the Army.”
“Your honor, the situation with Mr. Turner is that he is charged with stabbing an individual around 46 times,” Assistant District Attorney Melissa Poole said. “And, at the time that this occurred, we’re not completely convinced he wasn’t under the influence of some kind of narcotic.”
Poole added that the state is aware that Turner was in the military but cannot verify that today, and that she was unaware of local ties to the community.
Judge Robert Russell, who presided over the hearing, offered to grant Turner a mental evaluation. Ely declined, saying, “I would still rather hold off on this point.”
“That’s concerning me some,” Russell said. “The nature of these charges — someone being stabbed 46 times — makes me concerned that if he’s not in his right mind. I’d hate to let him out into the community again.”
Russell also expressed uncertainty about how the Army would proceed with Turner if he were to be released.
“At another bond hearing maybe we should bring in somebody from the military to tell me what would happen if I let him out, as far as would they arrest him? Would they keep him on base? I just don’t know,” Russell said.
“I’m concerned about his mental evaluation, and I’m concerned about what will happen with the military. If we can get these two questions answered, I will consider bond. At this time, I’m just going to leave it as it is.”
Staff Sgt. Tracey Carr, Turner’s noncommissioned officer, approached the podium to speak on behalf of Fort Stewart.
“Right now, they have him on hold. They’ve stopped his pay pending his (case),” Carr said. “Right now, they’re saying he’s innocent until proven guilty.”
Carr also said the battalion commander told her there is not a facility available that can hold Turner under surveillance.
Poole said the case will go before the grand jury for an indictment hearing in November. In an August hearing, Liberty County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Brian Barnes testified and said his understanding was that some type of fight ensued between the two men.