Phillip Turner attempting to influence witness testimonies during trial; mistrial averted

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(ABC 6 News) – Shocking revelations in the final day of testimonies in an attempted murder trial after the judge learns the defendant was trying to influence his own witnesses testimony.

Phillip Turner, 35, is accused of shooting 37-year-old Jessica Riedel in the head in front of her two children on Christmas Eve.

RELATED: Rochester man charged in Christmas Eve shooting to stand trial in April

Riedel survived but according to medical professionals, her mental state is compared to that of a 5-year-old.

This is the second week of the trial.

RELATED: Prosecution calls defense’s argument an “ambush” during Christmas Eve shooting trial

Questions of a mistrial arose after the judge on the trial, Judge Lisa Haynes, was informed by the prosecution that Turner had been calling witnesses and attempting to influence what they had to say before taking the stand.

The prosecution ultimately denied declaring a mistrial, saying they want to move forward with the case.

According to prosecutor and County Assistant Attorney Eric Woodford, his team was notified via a jail officer that Turner made phone calls to his future witnesses in the trial last week after the trial was already underway.

Turner reportedly made phone calls on Monday and Thursday night.

Judge Haynes called it a direct violation of court order and was appalled after learning one of these phone calls was 27 minutes long. According to the phone transcription discussed in court, Turner told one of the witnesses that the jury, “is gonna get it all, I’m gonna lay all my cards on the table.”

Allegedly Turner also told the witness about what was currently going on in the trial, which is a violation of court order, and was telling her what she should say. Although once that witness took the stand, she denied that fact.

Judge Haynes telling Turner that he, “was no doubt trying to influence his witness.”

Turners defense team denied any knowledge of Turner making phone calls from jail.

Woodford decided to not prohibit the witness from taking the stand regardless, instead heavily questioning her about the secret phone calls.

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Monday afternoon, Turner himself decided to take the stand, finally answering questions as to why he never called 911 after Riedel was shot on Christmas Eve of 2022.

Turner told the jury he didn’t think anyone would believe him as he claims Riedel shot herself.

Woodford questioned Turner for almost an hour.

Turner told the courtroom that, “I’m a black man in a white town with a white woman. I was terrified of not being believed.”

He also later said, “I was scared and feared for my life so I just grabbed the gun and I ran.”

Woodford says Turner has been lying from the start, including during the four hour interview with police after he was arrested.

One of the investigators with RPD also took the stand, showing the interview video of when Turner was apprehended on Dec. 25, 2022, the same day Riedel was discovered facedown in her apartment, but still breathing.

Turner is seen repeatedly telling officers that he, “didn’t remember” the events of Dec. 24. Hours later into the interview, Turner then starting telling a detailed story of how Riedel grabbed his gun off his waistband when he told he was leaving, pointed it at him and then pulled the trigger on herself.

Woodford argued given that Riedel was right-hand dominant, it wasn’t possible.

Turner argued on that stand that, “It was a tragedy that it happened. I should have called somebody but I was still in disbelief and scared that no one would believe me because of the color of my skin.”

Turner also denied to the jury of taking any drugs that Christmas Eve, despite his blood test with the Minnesota Bureau of Apprehension showing he tested positive for cocaine and methamphetamines.

The defense and prosecution rested their cases and all evidence has been shown to the jury.

All that is left is closing arguments from both parties and the jury can deliberate the case.

The trial resumes Tuesday at 9 a.m.