Canadian airman's widow on trial in his fatal beating

Associated Press
Published June 14, 2005

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - A Canadian air force officer's widow went on trial Monday, charged with helping her lover fatally beat her husband with a claw hammer nine years ago.

Prosecutors say greed caused Monique Turenne to kill her husband, Maj. David Turenne, on Feb. 9, 1996. She wanted his approximately $600,000 in life insurance benefits and $2,800 monthly pension, they say.

Before Monique Turenne, 48, could be charged in the death, she returned to Winnipeg, Manitoba. She appealed extradition, but Canadian courts ordered her returned to the Florida Panhandle in December.

Retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Ralph Crompton, 50, was convicted of first-degree murder in 1996 and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Turenne faces the same charge and, if convicted, the same sentence. The state is not seeking the death penalty.

Six jurors and two alternates were selected Monday and opening statements were set for today. The trial is expected to take at least a week. Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet on Monday denied a defense motion to bar a statement that Turenne made to Canadian police.

Investigators say she told them she had set up her husband, stationed at nearby Tyndall Air Force Base with the U.S.-Canadian North American Air Defense Command, for an attack by Crompton by sending him on a late-night errand.

Crompton was supposed to teach David Turenne a lesson when he went outside their Panama City home, Turenne told police in Winnipeg. She was angry because he failed to stick up for her when a neighbor shoved her during an argument. She said she was shocked when Crompton later told her that he was dead, officials say.

Winnipeg Police Association president Loren Schinkel, a Winnipeg homicide investigator in 1996, testified Monday that she told him and another officer, "He wasn't supposed to be smashed like that. ... I didn't want him killed."

Crompton told a different story at his trial. He claimed his lover also had set him up by having him come to her home for a rendezvous, assuring him her husband would be drunk and passed out. Instead, David Turenne attacked him in the yard upon returning from his errand, Crompton said.

"I was lying face down and all of sudden he stopped hitting me," Crompton testified. Crompton said he saw Monique Turenne holding a hammer, which authorities never found. He said the victim was breathing when he left.

Turenne, the mother of two, and Crompton, a father of four, both attempted suicide later.