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Juneau Empire
From left: Timothy Norwood, Clinton Ross and Richard Whybark

Thornton murder suspects to be tried as adults

Jury trial set for Aug. 29

Posted: July 26, 2012 - 12:29pm  |  Updated: July 27, 2012 - 12:05am
Kevin Thornton
Kevin Thornton

The three defendants charged in the death of a Juneau teenager will be tried as adults at the end of August, an Arkansas judge ruled Wednesday, according to local news reports.

The Malvern Daily Record reported that Arkansas 7th Circuit Court Judge Ed Koon denied a motion to transfer the case to juvenile court during a hearing at the Grant County Courthouse Wednesday.

Attorneys for the defendants — Richard Shelby Whybark, now 18, Timothy Tyler Norwood, 17, and Clinton Lavon Ross, 17, filed motions last fall requesting the case be dismissed or transferred to a juvenile division of circuit court.

The trio are facing second-degree murder charges. Whybark was 17 and Norwood and Ross were 16 when they were charged.

The three are suspected of attacking 19-year-old Kevin Thornton on July 20, 2011, while the recent Thunder Mountain High School graduate was visiting family and friends in Arkansas. Thornton died from his injuries a week after the attack, which took place while walking with a friend on a county road in Glen Rose, a small town about 45 miles southwest of Little Rock.

The Malvern Daily Record reported Thursday morning that defense attorneys for the defendants asked for the suppression of several items the state presented as evidence. According to the court docket, that including statements the teens gave to investigators after the incident that allege they were “laughing when [they] learned of (victim’s) death.”

The defense attorneys on Wednesday also requested a severance hearing, which would allow the defendants to be tried separately instead of as a group.

Hot Spring County Now!, an online news service out of Malvern, reported that the suppression and severance hearing was held at 9 a.m. Thursday in the Hot Spring County Courthouse.

During the hearing, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Richard Garrett called Hot Spring County Sheriff Deputies Sgt. James Tallent and Detective Sgt. Philip Calhoun to the stand to testify about their roles in the case.

Tallent said he was the initial reporting officer and conducted interviews with the defendants during the investigation, and Calhoun testified he also conducted interviews with them during the investigation, HSCNow! reported.

The judge took the motions under advisement and allowed defense attorneys five days to file additional briefs to support their motions, according to HSCNow!

The judge scheduled a jury trial in circuit court in Malvern for Wednesday, Aug. 29, through Aug. 31.

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

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