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Former prosecutor in court on gun charge

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Kathy Jefcoats

kjefcoats@news-daily.com

A former Clayton County prosecutor called his arrest and overnight jail stay a "humbling experience" -- and one that cost him an appearance at a niece's graduation from a prestigious academy.

John Turner Jr., now a private-practice attorney in Jonesboro, was arrested at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Wednesday when workers at a south terminal checkpoint found a small handgun in his carry-on bag. He was taken to the Clayton County Jail where he was booked in and given an orange jumpsuit and a cell.

When he made his first appearance hearing Thursday afternoon, he was represented by his law partner and former Clayton County District Attorney Jewel Scott. Turner was wearing his trademark glasses and braided ponytail. An attorney since 1973, Turner is no stranger to a courtroom.

Magistrate Judge Bobby Simmons set a $1,000 bond, which Turner said he would be able to post. Turner waived his right to a preliminary hearing so the case will go straight to the State Court Solicitor's Office. He then returned to the jail to wait out the paperwork process.

"When I talked to John, he said this has been a humbling experience," said Scott, leaving the courtroom.

Scott said Turner was at the airport with his wife to catch a flight to Phoenix. Their niece graduated Thursday from a U.S. Army military intelligence school at Fort Huachuca. The couple missed it.

Scott said Turner began carrying a handgun for protection while walking his four dogs at night in his Atlanta neighborhood.

"There have been about a dozen break-ins in the neighborhood, and he started carrying it for personal protection," she said. "He kept it in a bag and forgot about it when he went to the airport."

Turner fared well during his overnight jail stay, said Scott.

"Oh, he's fine," she said. "But he is ready to get out of there."

Scott said Turner has several options to dispose of his case, including pleading no contest or entering a pre-trial diversion program.

Turner, 62, worked in the Fulton County District Attorney's Office before coming to Clayton in 2005 to work for Scott as her chief executive assistant district attorney. When Scott lost re-election in 2008, she and Turner formed a private law practice in Jonesboro.

Turner graduated from George Washington Law School and was admitted to the state bar in 1973.