The high-profile and troubling case of 53-year-old former Bohemian-Blacksmith Studios artist Joseph Frederick Karr is slowly unfolding. Karr is accused of killing his 43-year-old girlfriend Kelly Turner, a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines who operated out of Oakland International. Turner had brought Karr to Austin to meet her family.
The Joseph Karr Murder pretrial is scheduled for Friday June 5th according to the latest Travis County Criminal Court Document. This is no guarantee that this will actually occur and Karr’s attorney has indicated that these dates are “settings” to keep his case on the radar and is part of the trial process. Karr is being held on $2 million bail in a Texas Travis County jail.
earlier this year i photographed blacksmith joe karr, as he made swords in his #oakland studio. on halloween he stabbed his girlfriend to death then tried to slit his throat. A photo posted by BRANDON TAUSZIK (@be_dizzle) on
The Bohemian-Blacksmith Facebook page and website that had a collection of photos of Karr with various weaponry has been removed. Karr’s haunting Twitter feed sits eerily dormant with the last post listed as October 20th, 11 days before the incident that took Kelly Turner’s life.
More details of the case emerged shortly after the news broke including an affidavit from an Austin police detective that described the scene and attested that Karr stabbed Turner to death. Turner and Karr were staying in the living room of an apartment at the 5200 block of McCarty Lane rented by Turner’s friend Michael Hammond and his girlfriend. After spending Halloween at a local bar, the two couples returned home and Hammond and his girlfriend went upstairs to bed. About an hour later, Hammond awoke to the sound of a screaming woman. He immediately called 911 and grabbed a nearby handgun.
As Hammond descended the stairs, he allegedly saw Karr pacing back and forth in the living room area and mumbling to himself. Karr reportedly had blood on his shirt and began walking up the stairs toward Hammond carrying a knife, yelling “I can’t believe I (expletive) killed her.” Hammond then pointed his gun at Karr and commanded him to stop. Karr then reportedly fled the house and the scene in Hammond’s 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser. Karr was apprehended the next day in a field in northern Hays County and arrested. Karr had self-inflicted knife wounds according to police and was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge.
Karr has yet to reach the courtroom, but a bit of a public trial has been unfolding about his history on this website. Karr was well-connected in the community and it’s no surprise that there’s heavy interest in the outcome of his trial. Quite a Soap Opera has unfolded in the comment section of our original post (75 comments and counting) that has everything from suggesting conspiracy that would vindicate him … to presumed guilt and suggestions that violent behavior and turbulent relationships were the norm for Karr. Friends, relatives & ex-girlfriends have all weighed in with their thoughts describing him as everything from “a kind, calm, positive person” to “there was something not quite right about him, but they never expected this.”
[UPDATE: The date of Karr’s pretrial has been postponed yet again to July 1st).
Karr is being charged with “Murder Intentionally Cause Death” and theft (for stealing Hammond’s vehicle after the killing). The Murder charge is a first degree felony punishable by five years to life in prison but is not a capital/death penalty offense according to a Travis County Clerk I spoke with. Karr is being defended by Criminal Attorney Keith T. Lauerman whom Karr was appointed to. According to Lauerman, “discovery” in the case is still incomplete and he is still gathering information from the police. No plea has been issued yet but this is expected to happen later in the fall with the trial by the end of the year. The average murder case in Texas can take 1-1/2 to 2 years.
Roughly 300 friends, family members and co-workers turned out to celebrate Turner’s life at the Spider House in Austin on November 13th. A memorial fund has been set up for her family and Safe Place Austin. The organization is dedicated to ending sexual and domestic violence.
Further Reading & Resources:
Police: East Bay artist fatally stabbed Alameda woman | InsideBayArea.com
Police find murder suspect in Southwest Austin woman’s death | Statesman.com
Hundreds celebrate life of domestic violence victim | KXAN.com
Kelly’s Memorial Site with Photo Gallery →