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Monday, August 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Victims upset with plea deal given to airman

Two people who awoke to find a man armed with a knife in their downtown apartment building late last summer say they didn’t know the U.S. Air Force airman’s trespassing charge was dismissed after a plea deal.

Audrey Connor was sleeping in her apartment in early September when she awoke to see a man standing in her room. Her shouts alerted roommate John Waite, who owns the multiuse building on Main Avenue just west of Division Street.

Police found Airman Jason Turkovich, who was attending survival school at Fairchild Air Force Base, on the roof. He was armed with a roofing knife that had been inside the building. Body camera footage shows that officers discussed recommending a felony burglary charge against Turkovich until they learned he was in the Air Force; they then decided on a recommendation of misdemeanor trespassing. Turkovich was released to the Air Force without being booked into jail.

Turkovich was ordered to pay restitution for the door he damaged when breaking into the building, complete community service and write letters of apology to Connor and Waite. The trespassing charge was dismissed in October once the conditions had been met.

Waite, a businessman who previously ran for City Council, said he talked with the prosecutor handling the case about the restitution and letters of apology, but said he never realized that would be the end of it and the charge would be dismissed.

“Either I have not understood or they have not presented things very well,” he said.

The restitution of $500 came in the form of a check from Turkovich’s parents, Waite said, who also included a note apologizing for their son’s behavior. Waite said he hasn’t looked at the letter Turkovich wrote.

“I said it wasn’t something I needed,” he said.

Connor, who works as a photo archivist for The Spokesman-Review, said she repeatedly called the Air Force and police for information on the case for a few weeks after the incident but then stopped.

“I haven’t heard anything since,” she said. “I just gave up. I couldn’t do it. It was driving me crazy.”

Connor said she has no animosity toward Turkovich and doesn’t want him severely punished, but she believes the seriousness of the crime hasn’t been acknowledged. She said she lived in fear for months after she awoke to find Turkovich staring at her. Finding out he was armed with a knife only made it worse.

“My safety was threatened hardcore,” she said. “Nobody seemed to take that seriously.”

Turkovich was reportedly drunk at the time, and Connor said when she saw him after the police caught him he seemed to be confused.

“This was not just a dude being drunk,” she said. “I just don’t think he was all there when that happened and that scares me a lot.”

Connor said she was never given the letter of apology that Turkovich wrote but said that wouldn’t have mattered.

“I don’t think if they’re mandated to write a letter, it’s coming from a real place,” she said.

Prosecutor Justin Bingham said he wasn’t aware that Connor didn’t get her letter and said the delivery was the responsibility of Turkovich’s attorney, Tim Note. Note did not return a phone call seeking comment Friday.

Turkovich is now stationed at Lackland Air Force Base. An Air Force representative said “additional action” was taken by Turkovich’s commanding officer but declined to say what the action was. Turkovich was promoted to airman first class in December.

Waite said he’s frustrated with how things turned out.

“Do I feel satisfied with it? No,” he said. “Am I surprised? No.”

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