SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (TCD) -- A 20-year-old man was convicted of killing a teen who worked at a diner with him because she turned down his romantic propositions.
According to WBIR-TV, a jury found Gabriel Turcios guilty of first-degree murder within an hour of starting their deliberations. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Sevier County Judge Rex Ogle reportedly said at the trial, "This is truly one of the most atrocious homicides I’ve seen. There’s not a person in this courtroom that hasn’t felt for the family and friends of this young woman."
Turcios reportedly stabbed 19-year-old Savannah Burford as she waited for her mom to pick her up from the Sunliner Diner in Pigeon Forge on Jan. 8, 2020. WBIR reports Burford was stabbed 17 times on her neck and chest, and suffered a wound on her brain.
Burford’s mother, Julia Cutter, told WVLT-TV after the stabbing, "I ran over and tried to pick her up. You could tell she was trying to say something to me, but the blood was gurgling out of her mouth. Blood was floating all the way down the whole sidewalk."
Burford was first transported to LeConte Medical Center and then transferred to University of Tennessee Medical Center, where she passed away from her wounds.
According to WBIR, prosecutors argued during the trial that Turcios was in a "jealous rage" because Burford turned him down. When police questioned him about what happened, Turcious reportedly smiled and said, "I stabbed her."
Text messages between the two show Turcios telling Burford he "never had a big of a like crush on a girl this much before."
Burford, however, reportedly said she would rather "continue as friends first and get to know each other before anything else."
WATE-TV reports Burford’s family filed a lawsuit after she was killed against the diner because they argued Turcios was stalking her and they did not protect her.