MARTINEZ -- Relatives of Tony Reynolds showed up en masse to Judge Theresa Canepa's courtroom Friday for the sentencing of the Richmond man convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting death of their father, son and brother. Several had strong, sad and spiritual words for Gil Edward Turner.
"I can't forgive you," Lawrice Johnson, with whom Reynolds had three children, told Turner, 28. "I hope at some point I can. Until then, I will pray for you."
Reynolds grew up in Richmond, where he got to know Michael Ammons, Turner's stepbrother, prosecutor Jason Peck said. In 2006, Reynolds was a passenger in a car Ammons was driving when Ammons was shot. Reynolds, Peck said, took the keys out of the car and left the scene.
Reynolds, known as "T.T.," was never a suspect in Ammons' killing.
Turner believed otherwise. On Dec. 3, 2011, Reynolds, who had moved to Sacramento, was visiting his old Parchester Village neighborhood in Richmond when he was spotted by Turner. According to a witness, Turner approached Reynolds in the 800 block of Griffin Drive, said, "This is for my brother," and fired six bullets, killing the 46-year-old.
Irma Snipes, Reynolds' mother, told the court she received news of her son's death while at a store. She said she drove to the scene and "ran to my son, and a lady (police) officer said, 'You are messing with evidence.' All I wanted to do was touch him.
"Each bullet this man shot into my son," she continued, looking at Turner, "left my son and came into my heart."
One by one, other family members talked about Reynolds' family values, his generosity and his enthusiasm for cooking, which sometimes got him kicked out of the kitchen for being over-involved.
Gina Davis, Reynolds' sister, struck a nerve with Turner.
"Even on this day where there is supposed to be closure, it feels like it just happened," she said. "As a woman of God, I have to forgive you. Not for you but for me."
At that point, Turner spoke out. "I never hated T.T.," he said. "Ain't never hated T.T." Two of the four bailiffs in attendance closed in on the defendant as the judge said, "Please, Mr. Turner."
"Well," Davis said, "you don't shoot someone you love."
After Reynolds' family members had spoken, Turner asked to speak.
"There are a lot of things that happened that people don't know," said Turner, who testified at trial that he shot in self-defense after Reynolds grabbed his gun -- testimony that was not corroborated by other witnesses. "I never hated him," said Turner. "I loved T.T. like everybody else. If I could, I would bring him back. I apologize to the family."
Canepa, who commended the family for attending every day of the trial and for acting with respect, sentenced Turner to 75 years to life in prison -- 25 years for the murder she termed "the cold, calculated killing of an innocent person," 25 years for use of a firearm and 25 years for a prior strike for armed robbery.
After sentencing, Canepa asked to meet with Snipes in her chambers -- an unusual gesture, according to Peck.
"It was that kind of trial," he said.
Contact Gary Peterson at 925-952-5053. Follow him at Twitter.com/garyscribe.