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Family thankful after clemency is denied for Downers Grove teen's convicted killer

Clemency is denied for Downers Grove teen's convicted killer
Clemency is denied for Downers Grove teen's convicted killer 02:31

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. (CBS) -- A Downers Grove family is relieved and thankful that their loved one's murderer will not go free.

We have told you about the shock and struggle for the family of Bridget Drobney, who was raped and murdered in a downstate cornfield back in 1985.

Bridget Drobney Family Photo

Drobney's convicted killer, Robert G. Turner, had been asking the Illinois Prisoner Review Board to let him out of prison. As CBS 2's Sara Machi reported Saturday night, Turner's petition for clemency was rejected.

The family was overcome with relief upon opening the letter.

"I read it, and I started crying," said Drobney's mother, Cathy Drobney.

The letter let them know that Gov. JB Pritzker has denied the petition for executive clemency for Turner – and thus, he will not be leaving prison.

"We agree that there are always there are always, you know, people who deserve second chances," said Drobney's sister, Jamie Tsambikou. "But this is clearly, clearly not one of those cases."

On July 13, 1985, Bridget was driving alone to a family wedding in Gillespie, Illinois in downstate Macoupin County, when three men pretending to be police officers activated an oscillating red light and pulled her over. The men abducted, raped, and murdered Bridget in a cornfield.  

Turner was convicted in the stabbing, and was on death row for 16 years, before his sentence was changed to life in prison in 2003, when then-Gov. George Ryan commuted the sentences of every Illinois inmate on death row. The death penalty has since been abolished in Illinois.

Drobney's family thought the matter was settled - until they found out Turner had a clemency hearing in January.

The Illinois Prison Project was advocating to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board for his release.

Robert G. Turner Illinois Department of Corrections

"Cases like Mr. Turner's are exactly why clemency was created – to acknowledge that people grow, that they can be redeemed, and that 40 years in prison no longer serves anyone," said Candace Chambliss with the Illinois Prison Project said last month.

If clemency had been granted, Turner could have been granted a pardon or a reduced sentence.

The Drobneys fought back.

"If he is granted, clemency, a message will be sent that in Illinois it's OK to rape torture and murder a child," Drobney's sister, Kelly Weaver, said at the clemency hearing last month.

Along with Drobney's relatives, current Macoupin County State's Attorney Jordan Garrison, and former county State's Attorney Edmmond Rees, both urged the Illinois Prisoner Review Board to deny clemency.

Rees wrote that Turner is a "cruel man without conscious (sic)." Garrison wrote, "The list of equitable factors which justify clemency is enormous. In the long list of factors to be considered, Robert Turner's case possesses none."

Gov. Pritzker ultimately ruled on the side of Bridget's loved ones.

"He cannot harm another living soul if he is in prison," Tsambikou said, "and that is a good thing."

Drobney's family says they have a new purpose now.

They want to take a look at Illinois laws to see if there is a way to strengthen them so cases like this aren't eligible for clemency hearings again.

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