Charges dismissed against Michael Turney for stepdaughter’s murder

Posted at 3:40 PM, July 17, 2023 and last updated 3:41 PM, July 17, 2023

PHOENIX (Scripps News Phoenix) — Michael Turney, the stepfather of Alissa Turney and the main suspect in her 2001 disappearance, has been acquitted of murder charges related to her presumed death.

Michael Turney sits at the defense table wearing headphones

Michael Turney sits in court on July 17, 2023, as a judge grants his attorneys’ motion for acquittal. (Court TV)

A judge threw out the case and ruled for a motion of acquittal in court Monday morning. He also ordered Turney to be immediately released from custody.

READ MORE: AZ v. Michael Turney: Missing Sister Murder Trial

The defense asked earlier in the day Monday for the judge to issue an acquittal based on what they called a lack of evidence that Michael killed Alissa, claiming there was sufficient evidence that she ran away.

The news appeared to come as a complete shock to Alissa’s family, who was in court at the time of the ruling.

Seventeen-year-old Alissa went missing at the end of the school year at Paradise Valley High School in 2001. She was first reported as a runaway by Michael, who told authorities that Alissa had left a note and was going to California.

In 2008, new information was brought to light, and officials began a criminal investigation into Alissa’s disappearance.

Officials conducted hundreds of interviews with coworkers, friends, and family.

When a search warrant was issued at Michael’s home, they discovered a bombing plot, at which point he was brought into custody. Officials say Michael took a plea deal and served 10 years in prison in the bombing plot, unrelated to Alissa’s disappearance.

michael turney and alissa turney combo image

(L) Michael Turney, (R) Alissa Turney (Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office/Scripps News Phoenix)

He was arrested in 2020 by police in Mesa on second-degree murder charges in connection to Alissa’s presumed death.

Her body has never been recovered.

WATCH: Missing Sister Murder Trial: Defendant’s Daughter Testifies

Sarah, Alissa’s sister, testified in court last week as a key witness. She has spent years searching for answers, sharing haunting home videos on social media, and even starting a podcast called ‘Voices for Justice.’

She spoke in court about a troubled relationship between Michael and Alissa.

Alissa’s biological father, who was also in court during the trial, told Scripps News Phoenix that he believes Michael is guilty.

This story was originally published on July 17, 2023, by KNXV in Phoenix, an E.W. Scripps Company.