The plaintiff and defendant have come to terms on a settlement in the wrongful death suit filed by the mother of a Union woman who died in Mexico.
Tamra Turpin’s mother, Evalena Duncan, filed a petition for a wrongful death settlement Tuesday, Sept. 12, against John B. Loveless, a St. Clair attorney and businessman.
Turpin, 36, was found dead March 2, 2016, in a condo the couple had rented in Playa del Carmen. A forensic examination concluded she died of asphyxia by strangulation. Loveless was acquitted by a Mexican tribunal in March 2017.
According to court records, Duncan and Loveless agreed to a settlement and a petition was filed in the Franklin County Circuit Court requesting a judge rule that the settlement is fair. The judge is charged with determining if the settlement is reasonable under the circumstances.
The terms of the settlement have not been released.
First assigned to the case was Circuit Judge Ike Lamke who recused himself Tuesday. Presiding Circuit Judge Gael D. Wood recused himself Thursday.
Associate Circuit Judge Dave Hoven was assigned the case Thursday. According to local court rules, if the circuit judge and then presiding circuit judge recuse themselves from a case, it is handed down to the Division 6 judge.
Duncan lives in Grand Prairie, Texas. She is being represented by Becker, Robinson & Brinkmann LLC, Union.
Loveless, 60, was held for over a year in a jail in Quintana Roo, awaiting the trial on the murder charge.
According to a statement released by the Turpin family, the tribunal stated, “based on the evidence presented to us, we cannot say with 100 percent reasoning that John Loveless committed the murder of Tamra Turpin by asphyxiation by strangulation with his hands.”
The Mexican tribunal goes on to detail the faults with its own Mexican chief medical examiner’s findings and reports, faults with its prosecution and representation of its medical examiner’s findings and criminology, which are all reasons why it does not have 100 percent clarity in this case.
The tribunal statement continues, “We are not saying John Loveless is innocent in the death of Tamra Turpin, however, by our laws and evidence presented to us we cannot say with 100 percent certainty he strangled her.”
Members of the Loveless family did not respond to requests for comments during the court proceedings.
Earlier this year, it was reported in The Missourian that statements in court from a chief medical examiner in the area indicated that the autopsy he conducted showed Turpin’s wounds were consistent with someone trying to defend herself, and that seven to eight hours had elapsed before her death was reported.
However, the court threw out the testimony of the medical examiner.
The same autopsy showed Turpin had suffocated. It indicated that she had injuries to her chest, neck, arms, elbows and knees, according to court records.
A second autopsy, requested by Loveless, stated that there was no fracture of Turpin’s windpipe and that there was insufficient evidence to show the cause of death because organs, including the liver and kidneys, were not dissected.
Turpin’s sister, Jodi Mills, previously told The Missourian Loveless said he took Turpin to the hospital March 1, 2016, where she was restrained overnight because she was having seizures.
The next day, Mills said, Loveless called her and told her Turpin was “out of her head” and that he had called an ambulance. He canceled the ambulance 45 minutes later and said Turpin was “fine” and resting, she added.
Mills told The Missourian that during the trial the doctor at the hospital said Turpin did not have seizures, but she had stayed overnight in the hospital where she had been restrained.
The doctor told the court that Turpin was confused when she arrived at the hospital. The private hospital required up-front payment, and Loveless attempted to use Turpin’s credit card to pay for her admission.
However, hospital staff did not allow Loveless to use Turpin’s card, and he then paid for the services himself.
The doctor also told the court that Turpin was signed out by Loveless the following day against medical advice.
According to Turpin’s family, the manager of the condo that Loveless and Turpin were staying at testified on behalf of Loveless, stating that he did not see any marks on Turpin’s body during the stay.
Turpin’s family was aided by a Mexican attorney, who translated for them during the trial. There also were translators in court for the defense and the prosecution.