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Attorneys: Man shot gun to scare wife, not to try and kill her

By Hannah Leone • Jan 31, 2018 at 1:00 PM

The attorneys for an attempted murder suspect on Tuesday admitted in court he beat his wife, but said he didn’t try to shoot her — he just fired five shots from a gun to scare her in their St. Charles, Ill., subdivision.

Scott Turyna has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and aggravated domestic battery stemming from the May 2016 incident. His then-wife filed for divorce after the shooting.

In opening statements in Kane County court, one of Turyna’s attorneys, Alison Motta, said Turyna did fire a gun after beating his wife, but there wasn’t evidence her client intentionally shot the gun in the direction of another person. Instead, she called the shooting “reckless.”

Turyna was living in Elburn on $1 million bail with restrictions limiting proximity to his ex-wife, but records show he was booked back in the Kane County Jail on Christmas Eve. His bail is now a little more than $4 million.

On the evening of the shooting, at about 6:15 p.m., Steve Spurling — who was a St. Charles District 303 School Board member at the time — and his wife were out for a walk with their dog. Suddenly, there was a banging noise. They looked to their right and saw a garage door starting to open. A woman tumbled out, somewhat rolling or crawling, as they described it. They could see blood on her face.

She ran up the driveway, but tripped where it met the sidewalk and fell face-first, the Spurlings both said. Steve handed Diane the dog’s leash and went to help her up. Then Turyna came out of the garage. He said everything was OK and tried to get his wife to go back inside, Steve Spurling said.

But the Spurlings exchanged a look with each other and decided they needed to get her out of there. Steve recalled Turyna’s wife saying “I love you, but this has to stop” to her husband.

Diane Spurling started walking north, with Turyna’s wife closely following her. Steve Spurling was behind Turyna when he fired the first shot, he said.

Turyna’s wife screamed, Diane said, and ran away to a house across the street as Turyna kept firing. Steve ran at Turyna, tackling him to the ground and knocking the gun from his hands as he was firing the last shot, he said.

Diane then called 911, she said. Prosecutors played Diane’s 911 call. She can be heard telling a dispatcher that a man shot at his wife.

“My husband has him down,” Diane told the dispatcher.

Steve said he “just stayed on top of him and waited for the police to come.”

Prosecutors showed the jury a photo of Turyna’s wife’s battered face, with both eyes purplish and one clearly swollen shut. Attorneys for the defense challenged how much of the injuries were from Turyna beating her and what were from her falling.

Much of Tuesday’s proceedings focused on how Turyna positioned his arm when he fired the five shots from a .38-caliber snub-nosed rifle. Steve Spurling said Turyna’s arm was level and pointed in the direction of their wives, while the defense attorneys argued otherwise, saying Turyna fired upward, into the air.

Both defense attorney Robert Motta and Assistant State’s Attorney Greg Sams took a turn recreating part of the scene on the courtroom floor, holding the silver gun and having Steve Spurling stand behind them and say what he could see.

During one of his displays, Motta faced Judge Donald Tegeler and the court reporter and held out the gun so it was pointed toward them.

“Put the gun down,” Tegeler said.

“I don’t think it’s loaded,” Motta replied, lowering the gun.

Tegeler called for a break. While the jury was out of the room, he admonished the attorneys both for the gun pointing and for bickering among each other. If there’s a gun in the courtroom, it should be treated as if it’s loaded at all times, Tegeler said, warning that if anyone pointed a gun at him again, they’d spend the Super Bowl in custody.

Motta said he was sorry, and unwittingly pointed the gun at the judge.

“I’m sorry doesn’t cut it,” Tegeler said.

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(The Beacon-News is a publication of the Chicago Tribune.)

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