U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer surprised nobody on Wednesday when he denied a defense motion for early termination of probation for William Richard Turner, an 82-year-old, one-legged convicted felon who entered the federal court system in 2014 after pointing a handgun a Hamblen County deputy.
Turner’s lawyer, Greeneville attorney, G. Nicholas Wallace, filed the motion on June 21. That was two DUI arrests ago. During that time period, he also absconded from court-ordered, in-patient alcohol rehab at the Johnson City Veterans Hospital.
Greer sentenced Turner to five months in a federal prison that has a hospital. Turner has multiple chronic health problems, apart from the fact that he lost a leg to amputation. When Turner is released, he will no longer be under court supervision.
It’s not like Greer didn’t give the former U.S. Marine ample opportunity to avoid incarceration. The federal judge initially sentenced Turner to three years of probation after he pleaded guilty to being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm in 2015.
He also avoided federal prison after he was convicted of stalking his former caregiver in Jefferson County and following the first of his back-to-back-to-back DUI in Jefferson and Hamblen counties.
Greer once ordered Turner not to consume alcohol, but lifted the restriction after Turner represented he planned to surrender his car to an acquaintance, who was supposed to sell the vehicle. Days later, Turner was arrested in Morristown for DUI and reported he had consumed a 24-pack of beer, according to police.
Hamblen County deputies were helping a local landlord evict Turner from his residence when he ran afoul of the law in an incident that could have easily cost the man his life. Detective Josh Sipe, then a road officer, was first into Turner’s home. Turner was pointing a handgun at Sipe.
In an extraordinary demonstration of restraint and observation, Sipe noticed that Turner’s finger was not on the trigger and did not fire.