48 Hours Preview: A Killer Defense

A Scorned Wife Sues Her Husband's Lover, Then Someone Ends Up Dead

Two years after his wife's death, Dr. Kirk Turner sat in a North Carolina courtroom, watching prosecutors lay out their murder case against him. He does admit killing his wife, but claims it was self defense.

Kirk Turner and his wife, Jennifer, appeared to be a perfect match, until their 23-year marriage came to an abrupt end when Kirk announced that he was leaving her. While Kirk denied that his decision was the result of an affair, Jennifer learned that he was indeed cheating on her - with the family's former personal banker.

The Turners had seen incredible professional success, he a renowned dentist and she a horse breeder, and with a lot of money on the line - a 10,000-square-foot house, a 35-acre horse farm and a collection of vintage Corvettes - the split quickly became nasty. In addition to filing for divorce, Jennifer, determined to go after Kirk's girlfriend, filed an Alienation of Affection lawsuit against her.

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Peter Van Sant's reporter's notebook

The family was splintered; their children, Wendy and Richie, picked sides - she with her mother and he with his father. According to Wendy, Kirk kept pressuring her mother to drop the lawsuit. She says her mother feared for her life.

Then, on Sept. 12, 2007, Kirk showed Jennifer two documents - an order that he planned to file with the court to force the sale of the farm and an affidavit from her first husband claiming that marriage failed because of Jennifer's obsession with horses. According to Kirk, Jennifer became so enraged that she grabbed a seven-foot long decorative spear and plunged it into his leg repeatedly. He insists he was defending himself when he slit her throat with his pocket knife, and nearly decapitated her.

While Kirk is adamant that it was self defense, investigators and prosecutors say the evidence showed otherwise. They believe that Kirk planned to kill his wife that day, and that he even went so far as to cover it up by stabbing himself with the spear.

But what would a jury think? Was Kirk Turner protecting himself, or was his wife's death premeditated?

Correspondent Peter Van Sant reports on "48 Hours Mystery: A Killer Defense," Saturday, May 1 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.