CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — A judge in Mexico has ordered a U.S. man to stand trial in the death of his American girlfriend in the Caribbean resort city of Playa del Carmen.
A prosecutor's office employee said Thursday the judge ordered John Loveless to stand trial for allegedly killing Tamra Turpin. The employee was not authorized to be quoted by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Turpin, 36, of the St. Louis, Missouri suburb of Union, was found dead last week in a condo the couple had rented. A forensic examination concluded she died of asphyxia by strangulation.
The official could not provide details on the judge's ruling.
But Turpin's oldest sister, Jodi Mills, said Thursday by telephone in Missouri that her family has learned through an attorney they hired in Mexico that a judge there refused to allow as evidence a second autopsy Loveless had requested on Turpin, using an American pathologist.
Mills, of Mexico, Missouri, said she was unaware of what that secondary autopsy found.
Loveless told Mills that Turpin overdosed on prescription medications during a suicide attempt after an argument.
Mills said she has continued to keep an open mind about Loveless.
"I'm still in shock," she said. "I don't know what evidence they have, but I just want to get to the bottom of this and get all the facts. I still have lots of questions, and I don't think it's fair (for me) to accuse John if I don't have all the facts."
"I know the facts that I've received makes me puzzled and question (Loveless)," she added. "But I don't want to wrongfully accuse someone. He's got family in this, too. Can you imagine being on the other side? I try to be a fair person, and it's not my right to judge."
Mills said her family still is trying to arrange her late sister's return to Missouri, hopefully ahead of a funeral they scheduled tentatively for next week.
According to the prosecutors' office in Quintana Roo state, where both Playa del Carmen and Cancun are located, Loveless faces charges of criminal homicide.
Loveless was detained at the Cancun airport before he was to board a flight to Atlanta. A woman who answered the telephone Monday at his law office in St. Clair near St. Louis said there was no comment.
Mills has told The Associated Press that Loveless insisted to her via text messages the day Turpin was found dead in a condo the couple had rented that she had taken "a bunch of pills" after an argument between the two the previous night.
"He said she was crazy out of her mind and had seizures" after taking the unspecified medication, Mills said. Mills said Loveless later told her he canceled an initial call for an ambulance because Turpin was "resting comfortably." Mills said Loveless told her by midafternoon that Turpin died, adding that "he said he was sorry and had no words."
Associated Press writer Jim Suhr contributed to this report