Scotty Dale Turnbull will spend 15 years and up to 30 years in prison for beating Russell “Rusty” Bitton to death in October 2014 and for assaulting Turnbull’s then-girlfriend.
Ada County District Judge Samuel Hoagland sentenced Turnbull, 25, to 15 years without the possibility of parole for Bitton’s death and up to 15 additional years for an attack on Anneca Maestas. The two sentences will run consecutive to one another and to the remainder of a drug use case for which Turnbull was on probation at the time of the attacks.
“I’m very apologetic and if I could go back in time, I would. He was still a human being and didn’t deserve to go through that,” Turnbull said in apologizing to Bitton’s family. He also apologized to Maestas, who attended the hearing.
“You were essentially on a rampage,” Hoagland said, in describing the Oct. 28 attacks.
Turnbull attacked Maestas first, after she confronted him about his relationship with another woman. He punched her in the face and then kicked her several times in the head and left her in the street. Maestas, who was on her way to a homeless shelter when Turnbull attacked her, suffered a 3-inch skull fracture and spent more than a week in the hospital. She said she’s suffered six seizures since the attack.
“I may not ever recover. No one deserves the beating you gave me,” she said in court.
Turnbull struck Bitton, 37, several hours later, after Bitton confronted the younger man about his attack on Maestas. They got into a fight at a makeshift homeless camp underneath the Interstate 184 Connector in Downtown Boise. At an earlier hearing, Turnbull described how he punched Bitton in the face and then kicked him several times in the face as Bitton lay on the ground.
Bitton’s body was found that night near the 16th Street overpass. He died from blunt force trauma to the head, the Ada County Coroner’s Office found.
The murder drew public attention to security concerns surrounding the homeless camp. The city of Boise later removed dozens of homeless people who were camped out in the area.
Turnbull pleaded guilty in March to second-degree murder and aggravated battery. A misdemeanor battery charge was dismissed in exchange for his guilty pleas.
Family members of Bitton told Hoagland they do not believe Turnbull is remorseful for what he did. They said they feared someone else may be hurt when he’s released.
“I feel he is and always will be a threat to society. I hope that I’m wrong,” said James Bickerstaff, Bitton’s step-father. “I hope he can find redemption and be remorseful of what he did.”
Bitton’s sister, Shannah Aleiwe, who addressed the court before Turnbull spoke, said her brother’s killer had not expressed sorrow over Bitton’s death.
“He has no remorse and no respect whatsoever,” Aleiwe said.
Hoagland said Turnbull posed a “high risk” for committing new crimes and the judge sentenced him to the maximum term — 30 years — anticipated by the plea agreement worked out by prosecution and defense attorneys.
Hoagland noted that Turnbull was ordered into a 270-day therapeutic rider program for the 2012 drug case, completed the program successfully and then went back to abusing alcohol and methamphetamine after his release from prison. The program provided Turnbull “no significant value,” Hoagland said.
Besides the felony drug conviction, Hoagland said Turnbull committed felony arson, aggravated battery and aggravated assault offenses as a juvenile, along with several misdemeanor offenses as an adult.