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Jury convicts man in property theft ring

Sentencing is next week

POSTED: May 12, 2010 4:00 a.m.

A local businessman with deep ties to the community will be sentenced next week for his role in a property theft ring.


It took jurors less than three hours Friday to convict David Kermit Turner, 53, on two counts of theft by receiving, one count of theft by receiving motor vehicle and one count of possessing a vehicle with the identification removed.


Northeastern Judicial Circuit Judge Kathlene Gosselin delayed sentencing until May 18.


Turner, who is free on bond, faces a maximum of 45 years in prison on the felony charges.


Turner was arrested in summer 2007 after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation recovered nearly $1 million in stolen property during searches of his home and shop on Hwy. 53, just east of Dawsonville.


Among the items were a customized Monte Carlo race car and several tractor-trailer storage containers.


According to court testimony, Turner had knowledge that the Monte Carlo, which was found disassembled on his property, and the containers had been stolen.


Jesse David “Buddy” Lankford pleaded guilty last year in Putnam County to his role in the thefts and is serving a 25-year sentence.


On May 5, Lankford testified that he would steal the containers and bring them for a price to Turner’s property, which the defendant had touted as safe because of his lifelong connections to the community.


Lankford said Turner paid him between $1,000 and $2,000 for the containers and also made a deal with Lankford for the Monte Carlo.


Turner, who did not testify in court, has maintained his innocence.


Waiting for the jury to return a verdict, Turner said he has learned he was too trusting.


“You live your whole life trying to build your reputation for someone you trusted to do something like this to you,” he said.


Turner’s attorney, Alan Begner of Atlanta, argued his client was just another victim in Lankford’s “robbery gang.”


Lankford’s daughter, Kayla Lankford, and her then boyfriend, David Lamar Youngblood, have also pleaded guilty in the case.


Kayla Lankford was sentenced to 12 months probation, while Youngblood received a 10-year sentence, according to Putnam County court records.


Begner said prosecutors should expect an appeal.


“I can’t say much right now, but we’re focusing on sentencing,” he said. “The appeal will be after the sentencing.”


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