NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES
DALLAS — They were roommates, friends, and coveted basketball players with promising futures.
Now, one has been charged with the other’s murder.
Police are still trying to sort out what led to the fight that killed Wilmer-Hutchins High School basketball standout Troy Causey, 18, who was beaten on March 23 outside the South Dallas house where he had been staying.
Dallas police arrested Johnathan Turner, 19, who played for Dallas Madison High School and lived with Causey at the same house.
Last week, Dallas Independent School District officials placed Wilmer-Hutchins basketball coach John Burley and Madison basketball coach Roderick Johnson on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation into whether they violated state rules prohibiting recruiting of high school athletes.
Both coaches declined to talk to News 8. Turner declined a jailhouse interview request.
But through interviews with friends and relatives, and with the help of athletic eligibility documents News 8 was able to obtain for both young men, it appears that state rules meant to prevent athletes from transferring schools for athletic purposes was disregarded.
Had they been followed, Causey and Turner would not have been permitted to live together, and the fatal fight — supposedly over a video game they had been playing — might never have erupted.
Causey and Turner lived with Causey's third cousin and the cousin's parents in a converted garage at a home on Cinnamon Oaks Drive in South Dallas. It was a household, according to people familiar with the goings on there, with little or no supervision.
How did they end up there?
Causey grew up with his mother and stepfather near Hamilton Park in Lake Highlands.
In 2012, an assault charge landed Causey in a Dallas County juvenile lock-up.
According to Causey’s mother, it was during her son’s eight-month detention that he began getting visits from Wilmer-Hutchins' head basketball coach John Burley.
“Troy was recruited by the Coach John Burley to attend the high school to play basketball,” said Tammy Simpson, Causey’s mother.
Simpson says even though she herself lived in the Richardson School District, she agreed to let her son transfer to Wilmer-Hutchins for his senior year — despite state rules prohibiting recruiting and changing schools for athletic purposes.
The trade-off, she said, was that Coach Burley promised her son would get a good education.
But first, paperwork had to be filled out claiming she and her son actually lived in the Wilmer-Hutchins attendance zone, she said.
News 8 obtained a copy of a “home visitation documentation form” signed by Wilmer-Hutchins officials, purporting to certify that the Causey family had moved "pictures and awards of Troy" and the teen’s clothes into a house on Leaning Oaks Street, which is near the Wilmer-Hutchins campus.
“No he was never going to live here,” Simpson told News 8. “They knew that.”
Instead of moving from North Dallas, Simpson said she let her son live with his third cousin on Cinnamon Oaks, blocks away from the Leaning Oaks address. Johnathan Turner had already taken up residence at the same house on Cinnamon Oaks.
How Turner ended up there is less clear.
“Bubba seemed to want to get out and explore the world on his own, you know, and we couldn't stop that,” said Turner’s sister Bricka Evans.
She said that her brother played basketball for Madison in the 9th grade.
The next year, she said, her brother was recruited by a coach to play basketball at North Atlanta High School in Georgia.
But in January of 2013, she said her brother suddenly returned to Dallas to live with her and his mother in southeast Dallas — far from the Madison attendance zone.
Turner’s sister said that Madison coaches convinced her brother to come play for them, despite state rules forbidding the recruitment of athletes.
In summer 2013, Turner's mother moved to Alabama. Turner, however, stayed behind and was invited to move in into the house on Cinnamon Oaks, in far South Dallas and, again, outside of the Madison attendance zone.
According to an athletic participation form — signed by a Madison coach and an administrator in January 2013 — Turner and his mother had moved to an apartment complex in the 1800 block of South Boulevard. The complex, a home for senior citizens, is within the Madison attendance zone.
Evans said her brother never lived there. She also said that her brother’s and mother’s signatures on the athletic participation form were forged.
In March 2013, Madison was crowned Division 3A State champion. Roderick Johnson was named head basketball coach at Madison in July 2013. He had been an assistant coach there.
Last month — about two weeks before Causey died — Turner helped lead Madison to a second state championship.
No coaches or administrators at Madison or Wilmer-Hutchins High Schools would talk to News 8 to answer questions about alleged forgeries, improper recruiting, or multiple violations of state athletic rules.
DISD officials also declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
Causey's mother believes coaches at both Wilmer-Hutchins and Madison played a role in the tragedy by helping student athletes break the rules. She acknowledges her own mistakes as well.
“I'm not sitting here trying to say that I'm not a rule-breaker,” Simpson said. “I admit to everything I did. But I truly did what I did for the best benefit of my son.”
In 2012, News 8 uncovered improper recruiting on Dallas Kimball High School’s championship basketball team. An earlier series of stories on grade changing resulted in South Oak Cliff being stripped of its 2005 and 2006 state championship basketball titles.
Jeff Johnson, who has been DISD’s athletic director since 2007, has never been held accountable for any of the identified irregularities.