Ruling reversed in Meagan Work case, her statements can be used

Meagan Work

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An appeals court opinion on Friday has reversed a trial court’s order to suppress statements Meagan Work made to police while they investigated her missing son, 3-year-old Colton Turner, in 2014. The decision appears to be a blow to Work’s defense.

Turner was found buried in a shallow grave on Sept. 12, 2014, two days after Work was taken into custody for questioning in Williamson County.

During the search for Colton, police held Work and questioned her for hours. Work at first told investigators her son was with a friend in Sachse, Texas, but she changed her story several times. She also said Colton had been kidnapped from an Austin truck stop. Work also told police she gave her son away at a Chik-Fil-A. Work later said Colton had a seizure, died, and she helped her boyfriend, Michael Turner, bury the boy’s body, according to the court opinion.

Work’s defense argued her arrest was unconstitutional, and her statements should be tossed from the record. Work is charged with tampering with evidence and injury to a child. She has pleaded not guilty.

In October of 2015, Travis County District Judge David Wahlberg granted a motion to suppress the bulk of the statements Work made after she was first taken into custody in Williamson County. Wahlberg concluded Work was unlawfully arrested. Now, the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals has reversed the trial court’s order and remanded for further proceedings.

Michael Tuner hangs his head after hearing the judge's sentencing (KXAN Photo/Ed Zavala)
Michael Tuner hangs his head after being sentenced to 20 years in prison for crimes related to the death of Colton Turner. (KXAN Photo/Ed Zavala)

The Appeals Court found the “undisputed facts” that Work lied to police about Colton’s location while they were investigating gave police probable cause to believe that “Work had committed the offense of false report regarding a missing child.”

“Work’s commission of that offense in the presence of the officers gave them the authority to arrest her without a warrant,” according to the Appeals Court. “Probable cause to arrest and the statutory authority to make that arrest rendered Work’s arrest lawful.”

Work’s attorneys, Darla Davis and Ariel Payan, were not immediately available for comment.

Michael Turner pleaded guilty in February to two counts of tampering with evidence and one count of reckless injury to a child by omission. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Work’s next court appearance is currently scheduled for Dec. 20.