The Illinois Prison Review Board was in Chicago yesterday morning to discuss a prisoner’s fate in relation to a 1985 Macoupin County rape & murder conviction.
The board along with prison clemency advocates and members of the family of Bridget Drobney were present for a clemency hearing at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Sadie Forum out of the public purview, hearing the case for executive clemency for Robert Turner.
Turner was originally slated to be executed in the State of Illinois for raping and killing 16 year old Bridget Drobney along a back road in rural Gillespie in southern Macoupin County. Turner impersonated a police officer along a back road and pulled over the teen who was traveling to a family wedding. The now 63-year old Turner along with two other men were sentenced for the crime. Turner was given life imprisonment after the death penalty was abolished in the state in 2003.
The Illinois Prison Project filed the petition on Turner’s behalf back in June, but it was delayed after Drobney’s family complained that they had not received proper notice of any clemency hearing in the case. The Illinois Prison Project says that Turner has been rehabilitated in prison and has been a model prisoner who deserves a second chance.
Drobney’s family says the clemency hearing has reopened wounds from the case and that Turner is undeserving of being let out of prison saying he’s shown no remorse for his crime over the years.
Current Macoupin County State’s Attorney Jordan Garrison along with former Macoupin County State’s Attorneys Ed Rees and Vince Moreth filed documents in November opposing Turner’s release. All three attorneys recounted the heinous details of the crime, reverberations of which they say can still be felt in Macoupin County today.
Drobney’s murder has also had a lasting effect on the state. Late State Senator Vince DeMuzio of Carlinville would lead the charge in passing a bill in the General Assembly making it illegal for the public to possess flashing red lights that impersonate police, which ultimately became law in July 1986.
The Illinois Prison Review Board will deliberate and share their opinion with Governor J.B. Pritzker, who will ultimately decide Turner’s future. No timeline on when the governor will make a decision on the case has been given.