Judge won't lower bond for stepdad of slain EMU student

The Detroit News

A Monroe man who is a person of interest in the death of his stepdaughter remained in jail Thursday after a judge declined to reduce his bond on an unrelated charge.

James Turnquist, 47, who is charged with possessing child pornography, had hoped to have his $100,000 bond lowered.

Turnquist

But Monroe District Judge Jarod Calkins said Turnquist's behavior shortly before and after his arrest last month suggested he could be a danger to himself or others.

After Monroe County sheriff's deputies searched Turnquist's home Feb. 25, police got a call from a woman who said Turnquist's wife, Kim, said she was afraid he was going to kill himself, said Calkins.

The unidentified woman said she was calling on behalf of Kim Turnquist.

After James Turnquist was arrested Feb. 26, Michigan State Police took him to a Monroe hospital for a psychological exam but hospital staffers were fearful of him and asked the police to remove him, said Calkins.

But Turnquist's attorney, Paul Stablein, said he wasn't a danger to himself or anyone else. Stablein said Turnquist doesn't have a criminal record and is strongly supported by his immediate family and friends.

Niswender

"The courtroom was filled with supporters. They know what he's charged with, yet they're here in support of him," he said.

Kim Turnquist said she and her two children are behind her husband 100 percent. "This is absolutely absurd," she said about police suspicions of him. "They need to focus on other things."

James Turnquist, who pleaded not guilty to the child porn charge, is scheduled to return to court Tuesday for a preliminary examination. He is in the Monroe County Jail.

His stepdaughter, Julia Niswender, 23, an Eastern Michigan University student, was found dead in a tub in her off-campus apartment in 2012. No one has been charged.

Also Thursday, a Monroe County probate judge said the Turnquists' 12-year-old daughter can stay with Kim Turnquist for now. The state Department of Human Services filed a petition last month to take the girl from the home in light of the porn charge. A pretrial hearing on that petition is scheduled for March 27.