A 67-year-old convicted murderer released from a state mental hospital two decades ago pleaded not guilty today to new charges of attempted murder for a stabbing last week at a San Francisco residential hotel.
Robert Lee Turner was arraigned this morning in San Francisco Superior Court on charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and battery causing serious bodily injury.
Turner, a resident at a hotel in the 200 block of O’Farrell Street in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood, is suspected of stabbing a 46-year-old male neighbor with a switchblade at about 11 a.m. on April 15.
Prosecutors say the attack happened after the victim said “hi” to Turner as he passed him in the hallway. He suffered severe stab wounds to the face and upper back.
Police arrested Turner after another resident heard screams and interrupted the attack, according to prosecutors.
Turner has prior convictions in San Francisco for a 1965 assault with a deadly weapon, and for the 1978 stabbing murder of a 26-year-old woman, according to court records.
He was found to have been legally insane at the time of the murder, and was committed to a state mental hospital, according to prosecutors. He was released in 1989 after it was determined his sanity had been restored.
Turner is being prosecuted under California’s three strikes law, under which he would face an automatic 25-years-to-life sentence if convicted of a third felony strike.
He would, however, be returned to a state hospital if he is found to have been legally insane at the time of last week’s attack.
Turner is being held on $500,000 bail and is due back in court May 6.