A British man is appealing his conviction for murdering his wife in south-west France after an argument over a television programme.
David Turtle, 69, was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2021. His wife Stephanie, 50, was found dead outside their home in 2017.
She had been hit and crushed by Turtle’s Mercedes. A forensic report confirmed she had been standing in front of the car when she was run over.
Turtle’s defence claimed it was an accident and that he did not see his wife in front of the vehicle. But this was deemed unlikely and he was convicted of one count of murder.
Turtle continues to claim it was an accident with the appeal now underway in Gers, south-west France.
‘She was my life’
The accident occurred just over six years ago – on March 30, 2017.
After a heated dispute over what television show to watch, Turtle decided to go for a drive to clear his head, the original trial heard.
Stephanie followed him, but then “disappeared” according to him. Turtle drove off, then paused, before noticing her arm underneath the car’s wheel, he claimed.
He called the emergency services, but she died shortly after the incident.
To this day, Turtle insists he did not see her and that it was nothing more than a tragic accident.
Expert analysis aided the original case
The legal team of Stephanie’s sister disagreed with Turtle’s claims, believing such an accident “impossible,” and a team of experts were called in to conduct tests.
Assessing everything from the vehicle’s sensors and the tire tracks it left, to a reenactment in the courtroom with a dummy, they left the jury in little doubt of the verdict that it was a deliberate act.
“When you drive over a speed bump… you feel it. You feel it more when you drive over a body... where there is a resistance, and it is necessary to accelerate,” said the engineering expert present at the case.
The public prosecutor for the case, Patrick Serra, said that Turtle “could not have been unaware” of his wife’s presence.