YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A Dumont supermarket cashier was sentenced to 45 years in prison today for shooting his ex-girlfriend dead with a semi-automatic rifle, in what both the judge and a Bergen County prosecutor said was the culmination of an escalating pattern of domestic violence.
Jordan Turner, 25, barely flinched as Presiding Superior Court Judge Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi issued his plea-bargained murder sentence in Hackensack. Under the deal, he must serve 38¼ years before he is eligible for parole. He’d be 64.
Although relatives insisted the two had broken up, Turner in June told DeAvila-Silebi that he caught 22-year-old Heather Reyes cheating on him, “so I went to New York and bought a gun.”
A Del-Ton DTI-15 assault-type rifle, to be exact.
After asking her to come by to pick up some clothes on Feb. 26, 2011, Turner said, he got into an argument with Reyes (at right).
He said he then went to his car, retrieved the rifle and shot her twice.
Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer said it didn’t happen quite that way.
“He decided three weeks ahead of time that if he couldn’t have her, no one could,” Grootenboer (below) told the judge today.
Looking at Turner, she said: “Three weeks before you killed her, you went online and arranged for purchase of an assault rifle in New York. You told the [pre-sentencing] investigator you bought it in case you had to kill Heather.”
DeAvila-Silebi then revealed a prior incident that came to light during the pre-sentencing preparations: “Six months before the murder Jordan tried to throw Heather out of a car during a dispute, injuring her arm,” she said. “I wish Heather had seen this for the danger sign it was. Six months later, she was killed at his hand.
“This is a lesson for the public to be aware,” the judge emphasized. “Domestic violence crimes rarely consist of one incident. In every domestic violence case, there are always signs before. There are always warnings.”
After killing Reyes, Turner went to the Garden State Plaza and called police. They found him waiting for them outside the AMC multiplex movie theater minutes after midnight.
He couldn’t recall the exact address of his apartment — he’d lived there barely a month — but he told police it was white and “just east of a stop sign” on East Quackenbush Avenue. They quickly found the house, got the apartment key from the owner and found Reyes’s body.
She’d been shot in the chest and abdomen with the rifle, which they said they found nearby.
Turner — who was on probation for theft and conspiracy convictions at the time — could have faced life in prison if convicted at a trial of murder, unlawful weapons possession and illegal possession of an assault weapon.
Instead, he accepted the plea deal.
That he did so was the one and only factor in Turner’s favor, DeAvila-Silebi said, explaining that it spared Reyes’ family the trauma of a trial.
That agreement nearly hit a snag when Turner told the judge this afternoon that he hadn’t discuss the parole violation with his lawyer. However, Grootenboer conducted the proceeding on the spot so that the sentencing could proceed. The parole violation and murder sentences will be served at the same time.
Public Defender Francis Meehan asked DeAvila-Silebi to consider Turner’s mental condition and sentence him to “less than a maximum” term. He said Turner suffers from “Axis I and Axis II” mental disorders, consisting of psychotic episodes and a personality disorder.
“Mr. Turner accepts his responsibility,” Meehan (below) said. “He is very remorseful, although I am sure that’s no consolation to the victim’s family.”
For his part, Turner said: “I want to apologize to Heather’s family and friends. I am very sorry for what I did.”
Grootenboer wasn’t having it.
“It’s too little, too late,” said the former chief of the county’s Domestic Violence Unit.
“This case is not about mental illness, not about a heartbroken man,” Grootenboer said. “It’s about domestic violence that plagues our society, even in the 21st Century.
“People have the right to leave relationships,” she added. “The court has to remind the community that domestic violence will not be tolerated.”
Grootenboer also told the judge that Turner, after buying the assault rifle, wrote on his Facebook page: “I’m going to be famous.”
“Winston Churchill is famous, Derek Jeter is famous,” the prosecutor said. “Jordan Turner is not famous. He is infamous.”
Grootenboer read several victim impact statements from members of Reyes’ family, many of whom were in the courtroom today. Her sister-in-law, mother, father, and 7-year old nephew all explained how her death had impacted them.
In a letter dictated to his mother, the little boy wrote, “Tia, I miss you, I love you. I really wish you would come back down from heaven so I could see you. Do you like the balloons we send to you in heaven? Jordan hurt my feelings when he hurt you.
“I hate him, he’s stupid. I miss you and I love you more than anything.”
The youngster’s remarks then turned to the judge:
“Jordan is mean,” the boy wrote. “Please don’t ever, ever let him out.”
STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT photos