On December 12, 2008 two Oregon Police Officers lost their lives. They were not victims of a shooting, an automobile chase, or a hostage situation. They were the victims of an intentional and premeditated act carried out by a father and son. They were the victims of a homemade bomb, left at Wells Fargo Bank. The bomb was placed there by Bruce and Joshua Turnidge. Portraits of the officers, Captain Tom Tennant and Chief Scott Russell hang inside the Woodburn Police Department. It’s not just something we think about on the 12th. We think about it every day when we walk into the police department, stated Woodburn Police Captain Jason Alexander.
December 12, 2008 was a very cold Friday in Oregon. The police officers were called to Well Fargo Bank after a man called to inform the bank that if the bank was not emptied, all inside would be dead. The man also advised the bank that there was a cellphone outside the bank. Upon responding to the scene the police did find a cellphone but they determined the call was a hoax. Later that day a manager at the bank called the officers again to inform them of a metal box in the bushes outside the bank. The box was thought to be a hoax and was taken inside the bank to be dismantled. As the box was dismantled, it exploded. Other officers remember that the bank looked like a war zone, covered in smoke and torn apart. That was the last emergency response ever answered by Captain Tennant and Chief Russell.
About 265 investigators came together to work out the Woodburn bank bombing. The lead investigator on the case, Detective Mike Myers, recalled things happened without being said or asked. Resources came to bear without calling, it was just totally amazing. Even investigative agencies outside of the State of Oregon offered their help. People who didnt even know Woodburn as a city or anyone who lived here jumped in and put us first and foremost on their agenda, Police Captain Jason Alexander said. Investigators soon learned, from the cell phone discovered at the scene, that the purchaser of the phone drove and 80s model Chevrolet LUV pickup truck. The owner was Bruce Turnidge and the purchaser of the cell phone turned out to be his son. The police were quickly able to make the connection and arrested the two men. District Attorney Beglau would later state that this was the most complex criminal investigation and prosecution in the modern history of Marion County. Both men were sentenced to death.
Last week the attorneys for Bruce Turnidge sought an appeal to overturn the death sentence. The basis for the appeal rests on the allegations by defense attorneys that Marion County Circuit Judge Thomas Hart made two dozen errors during Turnidges trial. One such error occurred when the judge did not intervene after a prosecutor told the jury that their only option was to silence Bruce Turnidges beliefs and his mind. The defense attorneys also cite the prosecutors use of Turnidges anti-government views as a trial error.
At Brownstone Law we hope justice can be brought to this tragic and unthinkable circumstance.
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