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Defendant in Thornton murder case applies for mental screening

Court documents show two others accused of beating Juneau resident to death will file similar requests

Posted: October 6, 2011 - 7:23pm  |  Updated: October 7, 2011 - 12:04am

One of the three teenage defendants charged with murdering Juneau resident Kevin Thornton in Arkansas has applied for a mental evaluation, and the other two defendants are expected to follow suit, according to court documents.

Bob Frazier, the attorney for defendant Clinton Ross, 16, filed the motion on Wednesday in the circuit court of Hot Spring County to determine Ross’ “culpable mental state, capacity, competency and fitness.”

“A mental exam should be ordered to determine if the defendant had the capacity to possess the necessary mental state required for the offense charged, conform his conduct to the requirements of the law, appreciate the criminality of his conduct at the time of the alleged offense and determine if defendant is fit to proceed,” the motion read.

A review of the court case on Monday found that all three defendants will “file for mental,” according to online docket report results, but probably after motions are heard.

The three teenagers, Ross, Richard Wybark, 17, and Timothy Norwood, 16, will be charged as adults and are facing second-degree murder charges, as well as the additional charge of engaging in violent criminal group activity, for their involvement with Thorton’s death.

Thornton, 19, was allegedly attacked by four teenagers driving by in a pick-up truck in late July while he was walking down a road in a small town about 45 miles southwest of Little Rock. He died from his injuries July 27.

Charges against the fourth teenager, a 14-year-old, have since been dismissed.

Lawyers for the trio have already filed motions this month requesting the case to be dismissed or transferred to a juvenile division of circuit court, and to suppress statements the teens gave to investigators after the alleged incident, including statements that allege they were “laughing when [they] learned of (victim’s) death,” according to the docket report. Those motions are still pending in court.

Attorneys for the defendants also filed in court motions Wednesday for the boys to be tried separately instead of together in one court case.

“... A severance of defendants is appropriate to promote a fair determination of the guilt or innocence of the defendant ... because they have conflicting interest and one would be forced to testify against the other if tried jointly,” read a motion filed by attorney Phyllis Lemons for her client Whybark, the oldest of the three.

A subpoena for production of evidence was also filed at Whybark’s behest on Wednesday, but no further court documents were available online regarding that motion.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com

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