Daily Local News (West Chester, PA)

Man found guilty in girlfriend’s death

- By Michael P. Rellahan mrellahan@dailylocal.com

WEST CHESTER » A Chester County Common Pleas Court jury has found an East PIkeland man guilty of third-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend.

The panel of six men and six women returned with its verdict Friday in Judge Analisa Sondergaar­d’s courtroom after hearing four days of testimony, including that of defendant Mark Turner, who admitted striking the woman, 45-year-old Rachel Yeager, after he suspected her of cheating on him with another man.

The verdict came as a victory for the defense, as the prosecutio­n had argued that the killing was intentiona­l, and thus would classify as first-degree murder, punishable by a life term in state prison.

As it is, Turner — who remains incarcerat­ed at the Chester County Prison — will be sentenced at a later date by Sondergaar­d.

He faces a maximum penalty of 20 to 40 years in state prison.

In trial testimony, a friend of Turner said that he had been fighting with Yeager for some time before the incident in November 2018. Text messages showed that he claimed to have thrown her out of his home on Ridge Road outside Phoenixvil­le, but that he had allowed her to return.

At some point, however, he found her at the home with another man — someone he said was named Patrick. He suspected them of being involved romantical­ly and told the friend that he was going to have her legally evicted from the home.

According to court records, on Nov. 1, 2018, Turner went to work wearing work clothes and steeltoed work boots. He had a couple of drinks at a Phoenixvil­le bar and more at a bar in Oaks and returned home with a quart of beer around 11 p.m.

When Turner walked in, Yeager was sitting on a couch wearing only Turner’s robe and a shirt. Turner went upstairs to go to bed, but noticed a wet spot, and suspected Yeager of cheating on him with Patrick that day. He returned downstairs enraged.

Turner then allegedly punched Yeager in her head with a closed fist repeatedly, hit her on both sides of her jaw, and used his steel-toed work boots to kick her in the vaginal area multiple times.

He called the police, who responded to a call of domestic vio

lence. Outside the home, he acknowledg­ed that he had struck Yeager.

“Did anyone hit anyone?” A 9-1-1- call taker asked. “Yes, I hit her. She’s passed out on the couch,” Turner said in response. “She’s drunk. I was hitting her in the face.” Asked whether the woman was breathing, Turner assured the 9-1-1 call taker she was.

“She’s fine,” Tuner said on the recording. “I just don’t know what to do. I don’t want it to escalate.”

An autopsy revealed that Yeager died of blunt impact injuries to her head. She had significan­t bruising on the left side of her head, from chin to temple, as well as across her genital area. There was red bruising and scrapes on her left hip, left thigh and ankle. There were bruises on both of her knees. Yeager’s right hand had significan­t, dark bruising, officials said.

The case was prosecuted by Chief Deputy District Attorney Michelle Frei and Assistant District Attorney Justin Roberts. Turner was represente­d by defense attorney Vincent DiFabio of Paoli.

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