Suspects in Secoriea Turner killing plead not guilty

The two men charged in Secoriea Turner’s killing pleaded not guilty in Fulton County.

Julian Conley, 20, and Jerrion McKinney, 23, face murder and other charges in the 8-year-old girl’s death on July 4, 2020. Police said an armed group opened fire on the Jeep the child was riding in near the burned-out Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks had been killed by an Atlanta police officer weeks earlier.

Protesters had camped out at the restaurant site to demand an end to police violence, and an armed group had blocked off the road near the University Avenue restaurant, essentially running a checkpoint and menacing people who drove by. Protest leaders have said they told the gunmen to take down the barricade before Secoriea was killed.

Warrants for Conley and McKinney allege that they are members or associates of the Bloods gang. The GBI said Brooks was also a member or associate of the Bloods, which drew the gang to the scene to act out anger over his death. Brooks’ family members, through an attorney, have said they were unaware of Brooks having involvement in gangs.

Conley and McKinney appeared in court via video conference call from the county jail, where they’re held without bond.

Through attorneys, each waived a formal hearing for their arraignments and entered their pleas. Neither defendant made any statements other than answering basis procedural questions from Superior Court Judge Kelly Lee Ellerbe.

Secoriea’s mother and father, Charmaine Turner and Secoriey Williamson, watched the briefing proceedings on a large television monitor mounted on a wall outside the courtroom.

After the Tuesday hearing they said they couldn’t immediately comment because they needed to speak with the district attorney’s office, but the parents previously have vowed to attend every court hearing for the men.

Secoriea was a student at Kipp Ways Primary School, known for a love of unicorns, dancing and singing “This Little Light of Mine.”