RIVERVIEW, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s been more than two years since Hillsborough County deputies arrested Melissa Turner and charged her with second-degree murder after her boyfriend, Matthew Trussler, was found dead at their Riverview home. Turner spoke exclusively with 8 On Your Side’s Chip Osowski on Friday, before her trial, which is slated to begin Monday at the Hillsborough County courthouse.
Turner is a former cosplay model but, since her release from jail, has been selling arts and crafts.
Turner doesn’t deny that she fatally stabbed Trussler, but claims it was self defense. Her attorney, John Trevena, notes that the victim’s wounds were mostly superficial, pointing towards a mutual fight where both parties were struggling for the knife.
It was Oct. 18, 2019 when deputies responded to the home. Trussler was pronounced dead on arrival. Turner claims he had been drinking all day and woke her up that morning and grabbed her.
“And then he turned me around and he had his hands around my throat. And my right hand was sliced open and I used my left hand and I could feel the knife that he had. It was on the counter,” Turner said. “And that’s when I picked it up because he wouldn’t stop. I thought he was going to kill me. And that’s where the stab in his back came from.”
Detectives say they discovered a nest camera at a nearby home that captured audio of a woman yelling “you stay down,” “so f***ing die” and “I hate you.” But Trevena say his expert will testify that you can’t really make out that audio, nor where exactly it is coming from.
Turner says, in a way, she is already serving a life sentence. There isn’t a day that goes by that she doesn’t think about what happened, and people recognize her on a pretty regular basis.
“Sometimes people will figure out who I am and they’ll still be like, ‘aren’t you the girl who murdered her boyfriend? Aren’t you the one who stabbed him in the back and left him to die?'” she said.
8 On Your Side reached out to Trussler’s father and brother, but are still awaiting a response.
Jury selection in the case is expected to begin on Monday morning. The trial itself is expected to last all week.
If a jury convicts Turner, she could face life in prison.