Attorney: Stepfather of murdered EMU student should not be 'person of interest'

The stepfather of Julia Niswender remains in jail on child pornography charges.

Jim Turnquist has been named as a person of interest in the police's investigation. His attorney is speaking out and questions the timing of the arrest. 

"He is absolutely denying any involvement in his stepdaughter's death," attorney Paul Stablein said. "He loved his stepdaughter."

Stablein says he was shocked when he heard Turnquist is now considered a person of interest in the 2012 murder of Niswender.

The 23-year-old was found in her bathtub strangled to death. Police say there was no forced entry in her Peninsula Place apartment. Police believe someone who Niswender knew, used her key to lock her door from the outside before they left. 

But Stablein says investigators ruled the stepfather out long ago.

"When we were involved with this case early on, we wanted (Turnquist) to take a polygraph," Stablein said. "He submitted himself to two polygraphs, he passed them both. The Michigan State Police cleared him as a suspect."

Ypslilanti police wants more information from Turnquist because they claim he has not cooperated and has not given investigators details on where he was the night Niswender was murdered.

But his attorney says that's not the case.

"I think it's irresponsible that the Ypsilanti Police Department all of sudden now is saying this. He's cooperated from the beginning multiple statements to where he was the days leading up to her death teh night she was killed 

Turnquist is behind bars at the Monroe County Jail because police say they found child porn on his laptop.

A computer his attorney says Turnquist and his family voluntarily gave police last December. Three months later, police arrested Turnquist for eight pictures found on that device.

The judge set a cash bond at $100,000. Stablein claims it is excessive.

"He has no idea what they are talking about," Stablein said. "He would never ever engage in activity for that would result in child pornography being on a computer in his home, absolutely not. 

FOX 2: "Are he and his wife still together?"

Stablein: "Yes."

Despite the seriousness of the allegations, his family is still standing by his side.

 "In my many discussions with the family, they stand by him 100 percent," Stablein said. "And I think that says volumes about his character." 

Sources tell FOX 2 that Monroe County did try to have Turnquist's 12 year-old daughter removed from their home. But authorities did allow the child to stay.

If Turnquist does get out, one of the conditions of his bond is he can't go home.

He is expected to be back in court next week.
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