Murder charge from homeless man’s October death reaches district court

Scotty D. Turnbull, 24, is accused of "punching, hitting and stomping" Russell "Rusty" Bitton, 37, to death during an altercation Oct. 28 near the 16th Street overpass in Downtown Boise.

Turnbull was given an additional three weeks to enter a plea. He will return to 4th District Court on April 23 for that and to have a trial date set.

If convicted of second-degree murder, Turnbull would face at least 10 years in prison and could have to serve up to life.

In addition to the murder count, he is charged with one count each of felony and misdemeanor battery. The battery charges stem from attacks on a woman and a man the day before Bitton was killed.

The woman was kicked and beaten in the head, according to the criminal complaint filed in the case. She suffered a 3-inch skull fracture, which caused permanent injuries and disfigurement.

The second man Turnbull is accused of attacking was punched in the face.

Turnbull, who doesn't have a permanent address, has been in police custody since the day Bitton's body was found in October. He was initially charged in the nonfatal beatings; the murder charge for Bitton’s death was added in January.

Turnbull is being held in the Ada County Jail on $1 million bond.

Turnbull has an extensive criminal record in Ada, Canyon and Gem counties. He has convictions for grand theft, petit theft, battery, drug possession, and fish and game and concealed weapons violations.