It's been a long, hard road to justice — forget closure — for the family of Emily Klyce Fisher, who was murdered in her Central Gardens home in February 1995. And the one person sent to prison for his involvement in the crime could soon walk free.
Alfred Turner — whose DNA was found at the horrific scene of the crime — was convicted in 2007 of facilitation of felony murder. In June 2010, a judge overturned that verdict and granted him a new trial, and in October the Tennessee Court of Appeals upheld that decision. The reason: Jurors in the 2007 trial were told that two men first accused of the homicide — Rodney Blades and George Tate — were acquitted in 1996. Defense attorneys claim that the prosecution could have prejudiced the jury by informing them of a previous acquittal.
Now, with the original sentence overturned, and with Turner having served eight years of a 25-year sentence, he could be released on parole. And if both sides negotiate a settlement — that is, if he takes a plea bargain — he could avoid another trial. When Turner appeared in court recently, Judge Otis Higgs refused to consider setting bond, recalling Fisher's murder as one of the most brutal he'd witnessed as lawyer or judge. Higgs urged prosecutors and Turner's attorney, Blake Ballin, to "work it out." Turner is due back in court tomorrow (Thursday, December 15) either to accept a plea bargain or move forward with a new trial.
Turner has admitted that he sold drugs to Emily Fisher's son Adrian — and didn't always collect on his money. An eyewitness claimed that a $20 cocaine debt drove Turner to stab Adrian's mother relentlessly. Turner sustained a deep gash on his right palm, his blood was found in several places in the house, and his DNA was a complete match to that found at the scene. Adrian Fisher, who once told an investigator, "I'm responsible for getting her killed," later died of a heroin overdose .
The victim's sister, Katherine Klyce, who lives in Delaware, describes the thought of Turner being released "outrageous." She told the magazine in an email, "The law should not allow him to be released after just [seven] years for this crime regardless of whether or nor he should have been granted a new trial."
For an in-depth account of a nearly 17-year-old murder that shocked the city and continues to grieve a family, read the two-part series published in the October and November 2007 issues of Memphis:
A Murder in Central Gardens Part I (Memphis magazine, October 2007)
A Murder in Central Gardens Part II (Memphis magazine, November 2007)
Remembering Emily (Memphis magazine, November 2007)