A man seeking clemency for his life sentence in a 1985 Macoupin County murder has been denied.
CBS2 Chicago reports that Robert G. Turner, now 63, has had his clemency denied by the Illinois Prison Review Board. Turner is serving a life sentence after previously being sentenced to death for the rape and murder of 16 year old Bridget Drobney of Downers Grove in July 1985. Turner was one of three men who used a flashing red light on their vehicle to pull Drobney’s car over and told her she had to go with them because she was speeding along a back road in rural Gillespie in southern Macoupin County. Drobney’s body was found four days later in a corn field, twelve miles away from the initial encounter with the three men. A Macoupin County jury later said Turner was the man in the group who ultimately ended Drobney’s life and sought the death penalty.
Later, in 2003, Governor George Ryan granted all Illinois death row inmates commutation to life sentences. The Drobney family asked Ryan to continue with Turner’s execution but had those pleas go unheard, and Turner was granted life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Last year, the Illinois Prison Project began advocating for clemency for Turner. “Cases like Mr. Turner’s are exactly why grace was created — to recognize that people grow, that they can be redeemed, and that 40 years in prison serves no one,” wrote Candace Chambliss of the Illinois Prison Project last month in a press release. Drobney’s sister, Kelly Weaver, along with other family members testified before the Illinois Prison Review Board last month that allowing Turner to be set free would be a mistake, send the wrong message to criminals, and ultimately reopen emotional scars for the family. Three current and former Macoupin County state’s attorneys sent letters advocating to keep Turner behind bars.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker ultimately ruled on the side of the Drobney Family with a letter to the family denying clemency and an executive pardon. “I read it and started crying,” said Drobney’s mother, Cathy Drobney to CBS2 Chicago.
Drobney’s family says they are now looking at at Illinois laws to see if there is a way to strengthen them so cases like this aren’t eligible for clemency hearings again.