Jury recommends death for dad, son in bank bombing

The same jury that convicted a father-son team of planting a bomb that killed two police officers inside an Oregon bank has now recommended that both be put to death.

Bruce and Joshua Turnidge stood silently, betraying no emotion, as Judge Tom Hart read the jury's decision Wednesday.

The two will be formally sentenced Jan. 24. Hart can't overturn the jury's recommendation. Because the case involves a death sentence, it will be automatically appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court.

The defendants' relatives later gathered on the steps of the Marion County courthouse.

"It's all in God's hands," said Janet Turnidge, Bruce's wife and Joshua's mother. Her family has been praying for the victims and hopes their relatives will some day find peace, she said.

Prosecutors urged jurors to sentence the men to death to prevent them from endangering prison staff or preaching their hatred for authorities to young prisoners.

Defense attorneys said the men would want to behave well in prison so they could continue seeing visitors.

The men were convicted Dec. 8 on 18 counts each of aggravated murder and other charges in the December 2008 bombing at the West Coast Bank in Woodburn, about 30 miles south of Portland. The homemade bomb killed state police bomb technician William Hakim, who was trying to dismantle it, and Woodburn Police Capt. Tom Tennant, who was helping.

"This is a murderer with no remorse," prosecutor Matt Kemmy said in his closing argument of the penalty phase Tuesday.

Father and son turned on each other in trial, each pointing the finger at the other for building and planting the bomb, which prosecutors said was part of a plan to rob the bank.

Witnesses testified that Bruce Turnidge, 59, had previously hatched detailed plans to kill people he didn't like and once fantasized about killing then-President Bill Clinton. Prosecutors portrayed Joshua Turnidge, 34, as selfish and hostile to jail staff.

Prosecutors argued that the Turnidges had fantasies of building bombs, robbing banks and starting an anti-government militia. They hatched the bank robbery plan because they needed money to keep their struggling biodiesel company afloat, prosecutors said.

Bruce Turnidge did not take the stand, but family members denied he hated police or held extremist political views.

Joshua Turnidge testified that he bought two cell phones and materials used to build the bomb without knowing his father planned to use them to rob a bank. He said he only figured out what happened after hearing his father muttering that no one was supposed to get hurt.

Woodburn Police Chief Scott Russell, who lost a leg in the explosion, said it was terrible that the plot ended with the murder of two police officers.

"It's really an attack on every citizen because they're the ones we protect," Russell said after the jury's decision was announced.

Since 1962, only two condemned inmates have been executed in Oregon. The state has 34 men on death row.