LOCKPORT – Runaway sex offender Paul S. Turley, who fled from Niagara County Court during his January 2013 trial, was sentenced Friday on a first-degree bail jumping charge.
Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas gave Turley, 49, two to six years but in line with a March 28 plea bargain, she made the sentence run simultaneously with his 15-to-30-year sentence for molesting two girls in North Tonawanda from August 1996 to June 1998.
Assistant Public Defender A. Joseph Catalano said the bail jumping probably will hurt Turley’s chances of parole. He’s serving in maximum-security Auburn Correctional Facility.
Turley left the Niagara County Courthouse after jury selection was completed for his trial. He picked up his wife and dog and drove across the country, finally being apprehended in Arizona on March 1, 2013.
In the meantime, he had been convicted in absentia of the sex charges.
Catalano, who was not the trial attorney, called Turley’s flight “a stupid decision that he regrets tremendously. He was under a great deal of pressure. He didn’t trust the system. He didn’t trust his attorney at the time.”
Farkas told Turley, “You hired the attorney. There wasn’t a lot I could do about that.”
Catalano said the absconding left the defense attorney, D. Daniel Stevanovic, in dire straits.
“I can’t imagine sitting next to an empty chair, trying to convince the jury he didn’t do it. It’s almost impossible,” Catalano said.
Turley said he was grieving his brother’s recent death when he ran.
“I was never in a courtroom before. I found myself driving around aimlessly, not knowing what to do,” Turley said.
He filed a form saying he wanted to appeal the sentence.