Daughter challenges investigation

Friday, July 3, 2009

As a daughter continues to ask questions about her father's shooting death in his neighbor's apartment, details are emerging from the Lewisburg Police investigation into what's been called a home invasion.

Michael Jett, 53, of Pear Tree Apartments, was shot during the Memorial Day weekend by Jeffery Sturgill, 51, who also lives at the apartment house. Jett's daughter, Tessa Singleton, says she wants answers to her questions about her father's death.

Jett, however, was wearing coveralls and had a ski mask on a warm day, leading police to believe that he was trying to conceal his identity, according to Detective Sgt. Jimmy Oliver. It appears to substantiate Sturgill's story that Jett forced his way in, holding the resident at knife-point.

Not good enough, Singleton says.

"My dad had been working that day," she said. "It was kind of cool that day. My dad was trying to pull a stump for a friend. He had those coveralls on that day because he was working.

"The ski mask was in his pocket," Singleton said.

Oliver notes differences in information and awaits results from the state crime lab so he may continue his investigation.

Police Chief Chuck Forbis says Jett knocked on Sturgill's door. Sturgill opened it, but looked down to keep his pet from going out. He saw Jett's shoes, pants and a knife. Forbis related that information that originated from Sturgill.

Oliver says sunglasses were found on Sturgill's apartment floor by police who found Jett shot in the doorway to Sturgill's bedroom.

"Who is to say that my daddy forced his way into Sturgill's apartment?" Singleton asks. "Who is to say that the mask and sunglasses belonged to my daddy?"

"There was a fight in the living room and it ended in the doorway of the living room and bedroom," said Singleton, asking, "Why?"

Oliver says his investigation indicates that Jett told Sturgill "he wanted his pills, Sturgill held the blade of the knife and Jett had the handle and they went into the bedroom."

Singleton contends Sturgill and her father knew each other because Sturgill "was providing my daddy with his habit, his addiction."

She acknowledges her father had faults, but she wants more answers.

Oliver repeats information from Sturgill - that they knew each other enough to say hello as they passed each other at the apartment complex, but that they weren't acquainted enough to know each others' names.

The detective sergeant also says his search of records on Sturgill hadn't revealed any criminal record.

Still, the detective says that when Sturgill got into his bedroom, he reached for and drew his pistol that was cradled on hooks affixed to his computer desk. The computer screen blocked view of the pistol.

Sturgill "was remorseful and said he didn't mean to kill him," Oliver replied to one of several written questions posed with those written by Singleton.

Singleton also challenges circumstances implied by a recording of Sturgill's 911 call to police who spoke with him as police rushed to the apartment complex on that evening of May 24. She says she can't hear the gunshot fired at her father when Sturgill was on the phone with police. Police say the shot can be heard.

Michael Jett is buried here in Sunset Park. Singleton says the photo that accompanies this story will be etched on to the back of his headstone.

"I've had to pick up another job to pay for the funeral," she said. "For this man to be walking on the street is not sitting well with me.

"I want some retribution."

She also wants a jury of 12 Marshall County residents to consider the situation, she said.