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Jury Rejects "Self-Defense" Claim, Convicts Prostitute of Murder

Ryan Coventon - Monday, April 30, 2018

An Oklahoma County jury rejected a defendant's claim that she stabbed a man 17 times "in self defense." 

Jurors recommended a sentence of life in prison for Sumeika D. Byrd, 31, of Oklahoma City, in the stabbing death of Brendan Turner, 28, on August 13, 2015.

Byrd, an admitted prostitute, said that she and the victim had sex at a south Oklahoma City house before arguing about money and drugs. Byrd told police that Turner pushed her into a dresser, and she grabbed a pocket knife from the floor and began swinging the knife back and forth to protect herself.

She told investigators that she didn't know if the knife made contact as she swung. As she attempted to flee the house, she says, Turner chased her. She turned to stab at him as she ran out the door because she "was scared," but he chased her to the driveway. She says he then went back into the house, and she slashed his tires. She told police that she believed Turner was still alive when she left the house.

Prosecutors, however, say the scene police discovered did not match the story Byrd told, and that the only evidence of self-defense came from Byrd's own testimony.

Police say that they found Turner lying inside the house "with his insides on the outside." He had fatal stab wounds to his heart and abdomen, and they say there is absolutely no way he would have been able to chase Byrd outside the home in that condition. Prosecutors dispute Byrd's claim that she thought he was still alive when she left, saying, "You can't leave a body in that state and not know what you've done."

Prosecutors further stated that while the victim had several defensive wounds to his arms and back, there were no injuries to his hands indicating that he attacked Byrd. They noted that Byrd had no defensive injuries, and they argued that the evidence clearly pointed toward Byrd as the attacker.

Of the defendant's claim of self defense, prosecutors said, "That man was stabbed 17 times. ... It takes some effort. If that is not deliberate intent to take a life ... then I don't know what is."

Jurors agreed, convicting the woman of first degree murder. She is sentenced to life in prison.

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