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Suspects in Thornton case back in Ark. court today

Defense seeks to suppress evidence

Posted: December 12, 2011 - 5:45am

A Hot Spring, Ark., judge is scheduled to hear motions today in the murder case of Juneau resident Kevin Thornton.

Thornton, 19, died in late July after being jumped by four teenagers in Glen Rose, Ark.

The hearing motion is slated to begin at 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 12, before a 7th Circuit, Division 2 Hot Spring County Circuit Court judge, according to an electronic court docket.

Three teenage boys — one 17-year-old and two 16-year-olds — face one count of second-degree murder, a class ‘A’ felony, and one count of engaging in violent group activity, a first level sentence enhancement, in connection to Thornton’s death.

The judge will likely hear requests from the defense team to try the defendants separately instead of together in one case; to either dismiss the case or have it tried in juvenile court where the teenagers will not be tried as adults; and to suppress evidence. That evidence is, namely, self-incriminating statements given to law enforcement and notes taken by investigating officers from the Hot Spring County Sheriff’s Office’ that said defendants laughed when they learned Thornton had died. Motions were also filed in past months requesting mental screening for the youngest defendant.

Defendants Richard Wybark, 17, Timothy Norwood, 16, and Clinton Ross, 16, were charged in connection to Thornton’s murder on Aug. 3, shortly after the July 21 incident. Charges against the fourth teenager, a 14-year-old boy, have since been dismissed.

The trio pleaded not guilty during their arraignment on Aug. 22.

According to charging documents, Thornton, a 2010 graduate of Thunder Mountain High School, was visiting friends and family in Arkansas when he and a friend, a local, were attacked while walking on a county road in Glen Rose on July 21. Glen Rose is a small town about 45 miles southwest of Little Rock.

His friend, 20, managed to escape. Thornton was carried to a nearby church and then transported to Baptist Medical Center in Little Rock. He died from his injuries on July 27.

Motive has yet to be established for the attack, and investigators reportedly said the beating appeared to be unprovoked.

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

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