South Tahoe man gets 25 years to life for killing woman with firewood

Staff Report


SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A South Lake Tahoe man who beat his female roommate to death with a piece of firewood in 2019 will spend at least the next quarter century behind bars.

James Cleveland was sentenced to 25 years to life for murdering his roommate in 2019. <em id="emphasis-0ff582082c720608ceb010c1125b4198">Provided</em>

James Cleveland was handed a sentence of 25 years to life for first degree murder on March 19 by the Honorable Suzanne Kingsbury. He also received an additional year for a weapons enhancement charge.

On Jan. 13, 2019, South Lake Tahoe Police officers responded to a report of an assault with a deadly weapon in the 1100 block of Carson Avenue at about 2:45 p.m. Initial reports said a man was hitting a female with a large object, according to police at the time.

When officers arrived they found Valorie Turley, 65, in front of her residence in the driveway with significant head injuries, the Tribune previously reported.

Turley was transported to the emergency room at Barton Memorial Hospital and then flown via Calstar to Renown Medical Center in Reno where she was pronounced dead from her injuries.

The El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office said that during the trial multiple witnesses testified they heard Turley screaming for help. When those witnesses responded to help her, they saw Cleveland brutally, and repeatedly, beating Turley over the head with a fireplace log.

Cleveland, 71 years of age at the time of the incident, testified and admitted that Turley had said something to upset him and he “snapped” and “lost control.”

Cleveland was found guilty on Jan. 26 and sentenced on March 19.

The case was investigated by the South Lake Tahoe Police Department and prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Casey Mandrell.

Authorities respond to the scene in 2019 on the 1100 block of Carson Avenue. <em id="emphasis-37af7ee68899eb0ce615e25b3523a806">Provided</em>

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.