Terry Turner sentenced to probation for 2021 Martindale manslaughter, forgoing prison sentence

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that a jury sentenced Terry Turner to probation for up to 10 years and that the length of the sentence will be decided by the judge overseeing the case.

LOCKHART — Terry Turner was sentenced to probation, forgoing a prison sentence, after being found guilty of manslaughter for killing a Moroccan immigrant in 2021 at his home in Martindale after a long day of deliberation by the jury.

A jury decided Turner could be sentenced up to 10 years of probation. Judge Chris Schneider, who oversaw the case, will decide the length of the sentence. Turner will also have to pay a $10,000 fine.

Turner could also serve up to six months in county jail as a provision of his probation, and Turner's lawyers said they expect he will have to spend some nights in jail. Additionally, if Turner violates probation, he could be sent to prison for up to 10 years.

The decision was read to initial weeping and shocked looks in the courtroom from the family of the victim, Adil Dghoughi.

"How can I be able to go back and call my brother and sister back home and tell them that the killer of your brother didn't spend not even one day in jail?" Othmane Dghoughi, brother of Adil Dghoughi, said after the sentencing on Friday. "And all thanks to this county. It's very corrupt."

Manslaughter is a second-degree felony, which typically carries a two- to 20-year prison sentence, along with up to a $10,000 fine. In Texas, people convicted of a crime can be sentenced by either a judge or a jury, and in this case, Turner asked that a jury decide his fate.

Typically, someone found guilty of manslaughter with a deadly weapon would not be allowed to get probation if a judge is deciding the sentence. However, under Texas law, that stipulation is thrown out if the defendant elects to have the jury decide the sentence, as Turner requested.

The mother of Adil Dghoughi, whom Turner killed in 2021, testified Friday about Dghoughi's character and how his death has been "horrible" for the family as they look to see Turner sentenced to prison. Prosecutors with the Caldwell County district attorney's office argued that they don't believe probation is an appropriate sentence.

Defense attorney Angelica Cogliano argued that Turner "does not have freedom” if given probation and that his life was "worth more than the worst decision of his life.”

How Turner killed Dghoughi

Turner killed Adil Dghoughi, 31, after Dghoughi pulled into his driveway at about 3:30 a.m. Oct. 11, 2021, and sat there for four minutes. Prosecutors believe Dghoughi was lost and trying to get back to his girlfriend's house, who lived just minutes down the road, as his phone had the GPS open with directions to her house.

Turner testified in the trial that he ran outside wearing just pajama pants and immediately pointed his pistol at the driver's side window of Dghoughi's car.

Dghoughi began backing away, before coming head-to-head in his car with Turner, who said he jumped to the driver's side of the car and began banging on the window with his pistol.

Turner said since the incident happened two years ago that he was acting in self-defense as he believed he saw a gun pointed at him, but he has made conflicting statements as to how certain he was that he saw a gun. Dghoughi was found to be unarmed.

'Don't believe he's not with us': Mother testifies

In an emotional testimony, Fatiha Haouass, mother of Adil Dghoughi, testified Friday that her son "believed in the United States," as he became a citizen after obtaining a master's degree from a college in Rhode Island.

Adil Dghoughi's death has been hard on the entire family, but Haouass said that Othmane Dghoughi, a younger brother who lives in College Station, has taken it very hard and is suffering from mental and physical health issues since it happened.

“It’s hard to talk about my son in the past tense; that’s usually the children who talk about their parents in the past tense," Haouass said through tears. "I still don't believe he's not with us anymore."

The family has previously told the American-Statesman they were hoping Turner would be found guilty of murder.

Detective who initially told Turner he wasn't in trouble testifies that he thinks Turner would complete probation

Capt. Jeff Ferry, who was the detective who investigated the case for the Caldwell County sheriff's office, was called to testify by Turner's attorneys Friday. Gerry Morris, the attorney representing Turner, asked if Ferry believed Turner is "an individual who will likely successfully complete probation."

"I do," Ferry said.

During the trial, video footage of the initial interview with Turner after the shooting showed that Ferry told Turner he didn't think the district attorney would be filing charges and that Turner could go on a scheduled camping trip.

In a turn of events, Weber, whose office regularly works with the sheriff's office on prosecutions, called out Ferry and his initial investigation in closing arguments, stating that Ferry was a "surprise" witness that he found out about just an hour earlier.

"Ferry formed an opinion without doing an investigation,” Weber said.

'God forgive those jurors'

After the jury's decision on Friday, Othmane Dghoughi held his mother outside of the courtroom as the two cried.

For Othmane Dghoughi, Turner’s sentencing brings the close of a two-year battle, as he'd fought to bring media attention on the case.

The trial was emotional for him, as have been the last two years. His brother’s killing has provoked intense feelings of grief that have manifested in health problems such as panic attacks, which required hospital visits.

Othmane Dghoughi told the American-Statesman that he made a vow that he wouldn’t visit his brother’s grave in Morocco until Turner went to jail. After Friday’s sentencing, he said he would still visit his brother's grave and "tell him that the U.S. that you believed in before is very corrupt."

Othmane Dghoughi, worrying for his safety, now doubts whether he should stay in the United States or return to Morocco.

Additionally, Othmane Dghoughi said he doesn’t think Turner was sorry for killing his brother, stating that Turner never apologized or said anything to his family.

"I cannot fight with a whole corrupt system here in this country," Othmane Dghoughi said after Friday's sentencing. "It was a rough two years. ... I say again, may God forgive those jurors."

Now, Othmane Dghoughi and his mother said, they can finally start to grieve the loss of Adil Dghoughi.

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Turner sentenced to probation, avoiding prison, for 2021 manslaughter