(UPDATED 8:50 PM with Prosecuting Attorney’s Office information about past cases)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Last Thursday, we published a police alert about 37-year-old Jason A. Turner, who they describe as a “prolific mail thief” who focuses on North Delridge.
This morning he’s in jail again, after a second arrest in four days. Police say they objected to his release after Saturday’s arrest but he was let go Monday anyway – then arrested again on Tuesday.
According to the police-report narrative from Saturday’s arrest, officers spotted Turner “walking near Sylvan Way/Delridge Way” just after 3 pm. fitting the description of a suspect in two reports of mail theft that day. The report says he had pieces of mail stuffed into his clothing: “Without being asked, Turner stated he goes into mailboxes to get mail because he is looking for good things to sell.” Police say he was in possession of “14 total pieces from 3 different addresses, with 4 different names,” none of them his. That qualified as a potential felony (RCW 9A.56.370). After he was arrested and read his rights, the report adds, he told police “he was specifically looking for credit cards that people had applied for because he has had success using those in the past.” Turner was booked into jail but released Monday evening, without bail being set.
Then on Tuesday, according to SW Precinct commander Capt. Kevin Grossman, officers arrested Turner again “after responding to a 911 call that he was stealing mail along 25th Ave SW (near SW Brandon St).” That was one of two calls, the first at 7:46 am, just 13 hours after he got out of jail. Capt. Grossman says one caller recognized the suspect from the photo we published last week. This time, police say, they recovered nearly 200 pieces of stolen mail.
Turner will likely have a first-appearance hearing today and police will again ask that he not be released on personal recognizance. They say the case that one detective will send to prosecutors includes a 2020 mail-theft case with ~20 victims, a more-recent case alleging mail theft and forgery with almost 50 victims, an attempted car prowl, plus these brand-new cases. Police also say another detective has been investigating a January mail-theft case. Records show no previous felony charges against Turner, but he has two open cases in which he’s been charged with misdemeanors.
What about federal charges for mail theft? you might wonder. Police say a USPIS Inspector also was called to the precinct to interview Turner before he wa taken to jail, where he’s been since just after 2 pm Tuesday.
This is his third arrest this month. After the first one, on February 3rd, prosecutors told police that they did not push to keep him in custody because a judge was unlikely to require bail given that it was a non-violent crime and that Turner had a “limited warrant history.” We have asked the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for comment on their policies – if commenting on this specific case is not possible – and will update this story when we hear back, as well as when we get word on what happens in court today.
5:46 PM: The jail register says bail was set for Turner today – $2,500. We also have received a response from the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and will add that later this evening.
8:50 PM: KCPAO spokesperson Casey McNerthney responded with information about Turner’s history as applies to their office, going back to 2017.
At today’s court appearance for Tuesday’s arrest, he says the prosecutor asked that Turner be held on $5,000 bail; Judge Joe Campagna set bail at $2,500.
For Saturday’s arrest, the prosecutor asked that Turner be held on $2,000 bail; Judge Rhonda Laumann released him on his personal recognizance.
We’ve already detailed the February 3rd circumstances above.
For those cases, McNerthney says, they are awaiting the case referral from the detective so they can review the case for possible charges. They do have one case, from a January mail-theft arrest, “now actively being reviewed by a deputy prosecuting attorney for a charging decision” after police sent their investigation information last week. If charges are not filed within 72 hours, a suspect cannot be kept in jail.
Last May, McNerthney says, Turner was arrested and police referred a case, but: “As of December 2020, the police investigator did not respond to multiple requests for victim statements. On December 12, our office sent a note to the investigating detective explaining that we did not have enough cooperative victims and corresponding pieces of mail to satisfy the legal standards for mail theft under the statute. The note asked the detective to please let us know if there was any additional victim statements we could consider. As of this morning, we have not received additional documents.”
Other cases before that:
In June 2019, an arrest for alleged supermarket shoplifting outside the city, and two misdemeanor warrants. McNerthney said, “Law enforcement did not object to his release. … The Sheriff’s Office did not send us the case for a review and charging decision.”
In April 2019, an arrest for alleged robbery. Prosecutors asked that Turner be held on $75,000 bail; Judge Marcine Anderson released him on personal recognizance. Police have to date not sent information for a review and charging decision.
In December 2017, another robbery arrest, this time at a West Seattle Rite Aid. Prosecutors asked for $50,000 bail; Turner was released before long because no case was referred for a review and charging decision.
There also were misdemeanor cases in 2018 and 2019, both city and county – those are handled by Municipal Court and the City Attorney’s Office, totally separate from the system in which the KCPAO works.
For some big-picture information beyond just this particular defendant,
Court rule 3.2 parts 2(a) and (b) outline the courts’ presumption of release statewide. The parts 2(a) and (b) are the cases where we can make the case to keep someone in jail similar to how we did today and at earlier first appearances.
There’s also the directive from the Executive’s Office based on public heath guidelines to keep the jail population as low as safely possible during the pandemic. In line with that, we review each case individually. Things we review include a past history of violence, past history following court orders and the seriousness of the current offense.
One of the big keys at a first appearance is if law enforcement notes on the superform that they object to release. Judges often rely on that. On today’s superform, police objected to release, which certainly helped us in the argument before a the judge.
The superform is a document that basically centers on the original police report, often with expanded narrative, but that’s not enough for charges to be filed – police have to send a lot more information, including evidence/witnesses. McNerthney adds, “We also want to be clear that we know SPD has large caseloads in every precinct and are working hard to address serious violent crime. Some or all of these may still be under investigation by them. We appreciate their work.”