Russell “Rusty” Bitton lost his life in October 2014 after confronting Scotty D. Turnbull about beating up Turnbull’s then-girlfriend.
Turnbull, now 25, said he got into a fight with Bitton, 37, at a makeshift homeless camp underneath the Connector in Downtown Boise, hours after Turnbull knocked out the woman on Oct. 28.
“It went from a mutual fistfight to him blacking out and me continuing — even though he was unconscious — to punch him in the face and kick him in the face until his body was limp,” Turnbull told Ada County District Judge Sam Hoagland on Tuesday.
Bitton’s body was found that night near the 16th Street overpass. He died from blunt force trauma to the head from an assault, the Ada County Coroner’s Office ruled.
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Earlier, the girlfriend confronted Turnbull about his relationship with another woman. She was attacked as she walked to a nearby homeless shelter. Turnbull told Hoagland she had a knife in her hand that he picked up after the attack.
He did not claim, however, that he beat her in self-defense.
“I punched her in the face, and after she hit the ground I continued to kick her in the head multiple times and walked away,” Turnbull said.
The woman suffered a fractured skull and other injuries and spent more than a week in the hospital, prosecutors said. She suffered a 3-inch skull fracture, leading to permanent injuries and disfigurement.
Turnbull and the two victims were residing in the homeless camp, located near the Rhodes Skate Park. Turnbull told the judge he worked four days a week sorting materials for the Idaho Youth Ranch and helped his stepdad roof houses in Caldwell on weekends.
Turnbull pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and aggravated assault. A third misdemeanor battery stemming from his alleged attack on a bicyclist the day before was dropped in exchange for his guilty plea.
He could face up to life in prison when he’s sentenced June 1.
Turnbull told Hoagland he had previously been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression. He did not blame what happened, however, on those disorders.
“I’m pleading guilty because I feel I am guilty,” Turnbull said.
Turnbull earned a GED and attended Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Ore., up until 2012 or 2013. He told the judge he was about 24 hours short of earning an associate degree in business management and counseling.
After Bitton’s death, his family in Utah said he had a “great sense of humor” and was always willing to help someone in need.