Fort Worth woman unaware that she helped boyfriend dispose of body, attorney says

Posted Tuesday, Nov. 05, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Thirty-five years ago, Lisa Juran was injured in a wreck that left her with diminished mental capacity, her attorney told a Tarrant County jury Tuesday.

That’s why Juran didn’t realize last year that she was helping her boyfriend try to get rid of the body of a man he had shot 12 times in her Arlington Heights garage a few days earlier, attorney Scott Brown said.

Juran, 52, is charged with tampering with evidence in the death of Walter “James” Anders, 51, whose body was found May 30, 2012, near railroad tracks in the 1800 block of Eighth Avenue on Fort Worth’s south side.

Juran’s boyfriend, George Thurston, was acquitted in May of a murder charge but was convicted of tampering with evidence. His attorneys said he shot Anders in self-defense.

Prosecutors presented evidence that Thurston dismantled the gun he used into 10 pieces, putting the parts inside plastic bags and throwing them in different trash bins. He then scoured Juran’s garage with bleach, plugged in a large fan and placed air fresheners around to mask the smell of the decomposing body, according to authorities. He bundled Anders’ body in a sleeping bag and tied it with rope.

Thurston, who had several prior convictions, was sentenced to 80 years in prison.

If Juran is convicted of the tampering charge, she faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

“In 1977, when Lisa Juran was 16 years old, she was involved in a car accident, and doctors were skeptical about her survival,” Brown said in his opening statement in state District Judge Mollee Westfall’s court. “She was in a coma for more than three weeks and in the hospital for more than a month. Since that time, Lisa Juran doesn’t think or process information the way that you and I do.”

When Thurston asked Juran for help loading a bundle into the bed of her pickup, she had no idea it was Anders’ body, Brown said

“Lisa Juran spent her time volunteering,” Brown said. “If someone asks her to do something, she just does it. She doesn’t question your motives, she doesn’t ask why, she just does it. That’s just the kind of person she is.”

Prosecutor Timothy Bednarz told jurors that Juran told detectives that she remembered seeing a shoe sticking out of the bundle. Investigators questioned Juran more than once before police arrested her on June 22, 2012, and during those interviews, Juran slowly revealed more and more of what she knew, Bednarz said.

“The issue will boil down to her knowledge and intent,” Bednarz said.

Railroad conductor Sean Baker testified that he and a co-worker were on their train May 28 when they smelled a foul odor, which Baker initially attributed to stagnant creek water. The next day when they passed the area again, Baker testified, he saw shoes sticking out from a bundle beside the tracks.

Juran may have smelled the same foul odor at her house May 26 or 27 but attributed the smell to a dead animal, Brown said. Thurston assured Juran he would take care of the smell.

Animals had died in her back yard before, Brown said. In October 2008, Juran wrote a Jeer to the Star-Telegram’s Cheers and Jeers feature to “whoever was poisoning animals in the South Hi Mount neighborhood.”

Juran, who breeds and raises bucking bulls, is a great-granddaughter of former Fort Worth Mayor H.C. Meacham and a great-niece of the late Minnie Meacham Carter, widow of Star-Telegram founder Amon G. Carter Sr.

Testimony is scheduled to continue this afternoon.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752 Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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