Woo given life in prison for killing girlfriend, leaving body in storage unit

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - UPDATE (2/6/18): James Woo will spend the rest of his life in prison for killing his ex-girlfriend, Julie Tureson.

In what District Attorney Dan May called one of the fastest homicide verdicts he's ever prosecuted, a jury found Woo guilty Tuesday morning. He was then immediately sentenced to life in prison without the option of parole.

Woo was convicted for killing 33-year-old Julie Tureson, his ex-mistress. Tureson's body was found handcuffed to the inside of a car door inside a storage unit along Platte Avenue on April 22, 2016. Prosecutors say Woo was attempting to hide the odor of her corpse by covering it in baking soda.

Tureson was the mother of four children.

According to 11 News partner The Gazette, before giving the sentence Judge Jann DuBois asked Woo if he had anything to say.

"Yes," he replied. "I'd like to be sentenced to life without parole, and let's get out of here."
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PREVIOUS (1/24): Courthouse staff said no family was present for James Woo as they were organizing the long line of spectators and media gathered outside of the courtroom for the start of the murder trial.

Woo is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend, Julie Tureson, and leaving her body inside her van, which was parked in a locked storage unit in April 2016. He’s facing a single first-degree murder charge. Documents in the case had been sealed, but information was finally made public during opening statements that started on Wednesday.

Prosecutors say Tureson’s body was found handcuffed to the inside of the car, was shot multiple times, and was covered in baking soda when deputies found her.

Prosecutors laid out their case during opening statements. They said the mother of four put her kids to bed the night before her disappearance. Her oldest son reportedly heard the garage door open late at night and was so worried when she wasn’t home the next morning that he called police. In the 911 call played in court, a dispatcher is heard asking the son if there was anything suspicious about Tureson’s disappearance. The son replies, “I really think it’s James.”

Woo and Tureson reportedly had a tumultuous relationship over the last few years before her murder. They had reportedly broken up not long before she was killed.

The prosecution showed surveillance images of Woo renting out the storage unit 12 days before the murder. Other images showed Woo buying four jugs of vinegar, eight boxes of baking soda and four rolls of duct tape. The prosecution claims all those items were found inside the storage unit where Tureson’s body was discovered, and some of the items reportedly had Woo’s fingerprints on it.

Nearby business surveillance shows someone driving into the unit rented to Woo the night before Tureson’s body was found. It shows someone eventually walking out about an hour later. That person is caught on a different surveillance camera throwing something away at a Walgreens near the storage units. The prosecution said Woo called an Uber to pick him up near the storage units and that ride ended near Tureson’s home where they allege Woo had parked his rental car.

Woo was taken into custody after Tureson’s body was found. He was in Seattle about to board a flight to Hong Kong. Prosecutors say Woo recently had transferred $300,000 to a Hong Kong account.

In his backpack investigators allegedly found a receipt for the vinegar, baking soda, duct tape, and a key that matched handcuffs that were on the victim’s body.

The prosecution alleges Woo deliberated, planned and murdered Tureson.

The defense opened their statements by saying they agreed with “90 to 95 percent” of the prosecution’s case but made the distinction that they do not believe Woo killed Tureson. They claim Tureson was already dead when Woo found her and he was worried he could be identified as the main suspect.

Woo is being defended by high-profile attorney Jose Baez, who represented Casey Anthony and former NFL player Aaron Hernandez. Baez said since Woo knew he could be seen as a suspect, and that’s why he wanted to leave the country.

Baez described Woo and Tureson’s relationship as filled with fights, infidelity, break-ups and make-ups but said Woo did not murder her. The defense identified questions they say cannot be answered: Where did Tureson go that night when she left her house? Who did she met? Where was she was killed? Baez said the investigation did not find any evidence about that, and he reminded jurors that they cannot speculate when making their decision. He also said that investigators only looked into Woo and missed opportunities to investigate other people who could have been possible suspects.

The defense claims none of the bullets taken into evidence through the investigation match the kind Woo had at his home in San Francisco. Woo’s attorney also said that the couple was planning on having a baby together, prompting Woo to rent the storage unit to help him move to Colorado Springs. The defense team also promised DNA evidence that would completely exonerate Woo.

The trial continues on Thursday.