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The Region

September 27, 1987

A jury has recommended death in the gas chamber for a 31-year-old Compton man convicted of the 1979 execution-style slayings of a physician and a teacher in an airport hangar, the district attorney's office announced. Melvin Turner will be sentenced Nov. 20 for the shooting deaths of Dr. Joseph Hill, 35, of Harbor City, and Joella Champion, 44, of Torrance. The Torrance Superior Court jury returned the death penalty verdict after the penalty phase of Turner's second trial. Turner's first conviction was overturned by the California Supreme Court. Prosecutors said Turner shot both victims in the head with a .38-caliber handgun as they lay bound and gagged on the floor of a hangar at the Torrance Municipal Airport, where Champion was showing her airplane to Hill. Turner and a co-defendant, Teague Hampton Scott, had stopped at the airport to steal Hill's sports car, prosecutors said. Scott, 30, of Inglewood is serving a sentence of 52 years to life in prison for the slayings.

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