Franklin County man looking to overturn felony conviction for displaying noose

FRANKLIN COUNTY (WSLS 10) - A Franklin County man is trying to overturn his felony conviction for hanging a noose on his property.

Jack Turner's lawyer, C. Holland Perdue, argues, it was a violation of his first amendment right.

Turner is the only man convicted of intimidation in Virginia and now Perdue is presenting his case to the state's court of appeals.

In Franklin County, off of Lindsey Lane, neighbors say it's a small knit community.

"I was born and raised here in the county and I've never known that happen anywhere in the county," said Claude Chitwood.

Neighbors said they've never seen anyone display a noose on their property.

Last year, Jack Turner hung one in his front yard. The move upset his African-American neighbor Kena Mitchell who saw it hanging and reported it to the sheriff's office.

"It scared me because if you can do that what else are you capable of doing? What hatred do you have towards me because I haven't done anything to him?" Mitchell said.

Mitchell said she's never had an altercation with Turner.

She claimed Turner also posted a sign with a derogatory phrase to African-Americans.

Perdue said Turner wasn't charged for the sign, but was charged for displaying the noose in September of last year. He was convicted in December and served a six-month sentence.

Perdue believes his client was the only person in Virginia to be convicted with the felony.

He filed a petition with the court of appeals and it was granted.

"The reason we're going to the court of appeals is overturn the conviction," continued Perdue.

He said they're also looking at a couple of things, including finding out if displaying a noose on private property is constitutionally protected under free speech.

"We believe it's protected free speech," said Perdue.

While Perdue is now in the process of filing paperwork for the trial, neighbors like Mitchell hope Turner's conviction isn't overturned.

"I hope they deny his appeal, I hope they see it for what it is, this gentleman, for whatever reason, has a problem with black people," Mitchell said.

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