Crime

Decision on parole for Karen Brown goes to full board nearly 30 years after Lexington murder

Karen Brown talked with a two-member parole board panel Tuesday in an image captured from video. The parole hearing was held in Frankfort, with Brown participating via video from the women’s prison in Pewee Valley.
Karen Brown talked with a two-member parole board panel Tuesday in an image captured from video. The parole hearing was held in Frankfort, with Brown participating via video from the women’s prison in Pewee Valley. mmckay@herald-leader.com

The full Kentucky Parole Board could decide as early as Monday whether one of the women convicted in one of Lexington’s most notorious homicides should be set free after nearly 30 years in prison.

A two-person panel of the parole board did not make a decision Tuesday after meeting with Karen Brown, one of three people convicted in the 1986 slaying of Michael Turpin, 22.

The lack of a decision was a repeat of proceedings in 2011, when two members of the board couldn’t decide and passed the question to the full board. The full board denied parole at that time but allowed Brown to seek release again in five years.

If Brown, 51, is granted parole this time, she would be released in February. Brown told parole board members George Carson and Lee M. Wise that she has arranged for transition housing with an organization in Crestwood.

Turpin’s family has vehemently opposed Brown’s parole requests. Nevertheless, Brown said Tuesday that she wants to be free to try to earn forgiveness from Turpin’s family.

“I haven’t given up on that,” she said.

“I have a lot to give back and I plan to give it back,” she said.

The case is one of the state’s most sensational murder cases.

Prosecutors maintained that Elizabeth Turpin wanted her husband of less than six months killed so she could collect $60,000 from insurance policies on him. She was considered the mastermind who enlisted Keith Bouchard and Brown to kill him.

Brown, Elizabeth Turpin and Bouchard met at Superior Nissan on Nicholasville Road, where they all worked. Brown and Elizabeth Turpin purportedly became lovers.

Brown accompanied Bouchard, of Jessamine County, when he stabbed Michael Turpin to death at the Turpins’ apartment. Elizabeth Turpin stayed behind in Brown’s apartment. Bouchard admitted stabbing Turpin.

Brown spoke Tuesday about Turpin’s murder, as she did in 2011. “That night is a nightmare that I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” she said.

Brown said she retrieved blankets to wrap and transport Turpin’s body to a nearby pond .

Turpin’s body had 19 stab wounds when he was pulled from the pond at Lexington’s Lakeside Golf Course the day after he was killed, according to previous reports.

“Did you like Michael?” parole board member Lee Wise asked Tuesday.

Brown said she did. The pair bonded over University of Kentucky basketball games and talking about their parents, Brown said

She said she writes letters to Michael in her group therapy sessions in prison.

“I feel like, in a way, he helped me become who I am,” she said.

As details came out about Michael in the media , she said, she understood something had been “gravely lost.”

“I made a choice to believe lies,” she said, referring to her co-conspirators Elizabeth Turpin and Bouchard.

Elizabeth Turpin received the same sentence as Brown: Life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years. She was last eligible for parole in 2011, which was deferred 120 months to 2021 . Bouchard received a life sentence and has been denied parole twice. He is scheduled to go before the board again in 2018.

Brown is an inmate at Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women in Pewee Valley. She has been in prison since 1987.

Brown was asked Tuesday why she violated rules if she wanted out of prison. In June 2011, she acknowledged having an inappropriate sexual relationship while in prison. Brown said that incident was a wake-up call.

Michael McKay: 859-231-1324, @hlpublicsafety

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