The N.C. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a lawsuit filed by a Clemmons dentist acquitted seven years ago of killing his wife in a highly publicized trial in Davie County can go forward .
Dr. Kirk Alan Turner filed the lawsuit in Forsyth Superior Court in November 2011 and then filed an amended complaint in 2012. The lawsuit accused two agents with the State Bureau of Investigation of framing him by manufacturing blood evidence and then lying about it on the stand.
Turner was acquitted in 2009 of first-degree murder in the death of his estranged wife, Jennifer Turner, on Sept. 12, 2007. Jennifer Turner was slashed twice in the throat, and her body was found in the shop building at the house the couple once shared in Davie County.
Kirk Turner maintained that he killed his wife with a pocketknife in self-defense after she attacked him with a large spear. Prosecutors said Kirk Turner and his friend, Greg Smithson, staged the crime scene to make it look as if Kirk Turner was attacked.
In his lawsuit, Turner alleged that SBI agents Duane Deaver and Gerald Thomas conducted unscientific tests to bolster prosecutors' theory that Turner killed his wife and then wiped the pocketknife on his shirt. Thomas had said in an earlier report that his analysis showed that Turner likely wiped his hand on his shirt.
Deaver was at the center of a scandal involving the SBI Crime Lab and was accused of misrepresenting blood evidence in the case of Greg Taylor, who had been convicted of killing a woman in Raleigh in 1991. Taylor was exonerated by the N.C. Innocence Commission.
The state Supreme Court ruled today that Turner's claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress would likely withstand a motion to dismiss. But the court dismissed a claim of malicious prosecution.
The ruling overturned, in part, a decision by the N.C. Court of Appeals. The case was appealed after Judge Stuart Albright of Forsyth Superior Court dismissed the entire lawsuit.
"We're very, very pleased that we have a chance to go forward with this claim and bring to light what happened to him," John Vermitsky, Turner's attorney, said.
The case will be transferred back to Forsyth Superior Court where it will proceed to trial.