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Teens charged with murder to undergo psych evals

Posted: December 15, 2011 - 1:11am

An Arkansas judge this week ordered the three teenage defendants accused of murdering Juneau resident Kevin Thornton to undergo forensic psychiatric examinations, according to electronic court records.

Thornton, 19, a 2010 graduate of Thunder Mountain High School, was visiting friends and family in Arkansas over the summer when he was attacked in July while walking with a friend on a county road in Glen Rose, a small town about 45 miles southwest of Little Rock. Thornton died from his injuries at a hospital a week later.

Four teenage boys were charged in connection with his death shortly thereafter, although charges against the youngest teenager, a 14-year-old at the time, have since been dismissed.

The three boys face charges of second-degree murder and engaging in violent criminal group activity, according to charging documents available online.

The trio pleaded not guilty during their arraignment on Aug. 22, an online court docket shows.

The docket indicates lawyers for Richard Whybark, 17, Timothy Norwood, now 17, and Clinton Ross, 16, had each requested their clients be screened for mental evaluations to determine if they are competent to stand trial and able to assist in their defense. That request was granted Monday by 7th Judicial District Circuit Judge Phillip H. Shirron, according to reports from the Malvern Daily Record, a newspaper of a town located 10 miles south of Glen Rose. Both Malvern and Glen Rose are in Hot Spring County, Ark.

The Daily Record reported Shirron’s decision halted other motions pending in the case until the examinations are returned. The online docket shows motions to still be addressed by the judge include whether the case should be transferred to juvenile court; whether the case should be severed so the defendants may be tried separately instead of together in one case; and to suppress evidence. That evidence is, namely, statements given to law enforcement and notes taken by investigating officers from the Hot Spring County Sheriff’s Office that stated defendants laughed when they learned Thornton had died, according to court records.

After the motion hearing, Shirron held a bond hearing for Whybark, the oldest of the three, according to The Daily Record. Shirron set bond at $40,000 cash or professional bond, or, alternatively, a $15,000 bond if electronic monitoring is used while on bond, the newspaper reported. The conditions of his release include being confined to the family’s residence except for educational or school activities and to have no contact with the victim’s family or his codefendants.

Bond hearings would be held for Norwood and Ross at a later date if requested by their attorneys, the newspaper said.

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

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