N.Ky. hit-and-run death suspect: 'I signed myself in, that should count for something'

ERLANGER, Ky. -- Lonnie Turner, the man accused of killing a 29-year-old Erlanger resident with a vehicle as she walked along Crescent Spring Pike Saturday, told a judge he deserved leniency in his bond hearing Monday.

“I mean, I signed myself in, that should count for something,” Turner said as he faced an arraignment on a count of manslaughter.

Turner surrendered to authorities more than 24 hours after Erlanger police discovered the body of Lauren Pettit in tall grass along Crescent Springs Pike.

Pettit’s body was found at about 8:30 a.m. after a Duke Energy worker called them. Family believes Pettit decided to walk home after working a second shift Friday at nearby Convergys when she discovered a flat tire on her car.

Detectives put out a public plea asking for leads in Pettit’s death Saturday morning.

Court documents show Turner and his girlfriend, Shonda Pierson, were returning to his home in Elsmere at the time Pettit was hit.

The pair did strike something on the roadway, Pierson told police, but they were unsure what.

The two did not stop to see what they struck.

Additionally, a caller to 911 reported a PT Cruiser with license plates matching Pierson’s vehicle was driving erratically in the area. The report indicates Turner, who admitted to driving the vehicle, was drunk driving when the hit and run occurred, police said.

Hair samples recovered from the cracked PT Cruiser’s windshield matched that of the victim, police said.

Turner has a criminal record that includes identity theft and drug trafficking.

Police believe Turner and Pierson were heading home from a bar in Newport when the incident occurred.

Ultimately, the Kenton County judge disagreed with Turner’s plea, instead setting a $100,000 cash bond.

Turner was housed in the Kenton County Detention Center. He faces 30 years in prison if convicted.

"I'm really glad that people came forward with information,” said Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders. “They are a huge help, and I'm sure it makes a big difference to the victim's family to know Erlanger police brought a quick resolution to this case."

WCPO reporter Amy Wadas spoke with Pettit's uncle Monday evening. Pat Moore said he has a long road of healing ahead since losing his beloved niece.

"She was very much loved. She had many friends, her family, she's gonna be missed tremendously," he said. "It's been a roller coaster ride really."

Moore finds comfort in knowing Turner is behind bars.

"Knowing that he's at least in custody - it's the first step to bringing some closure to the ordeal here. It's the first step towards a long journey I think," he said.

"We ask the community to just keep us in your prayers, just continue to keep us in your prayers and thoughts," Moore said. "We do appreciate it so much."

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