Friday, July 27, 2012

Accused Killers Of Former Juneau Resident Kevin Thornton To Be Tried As Adults For Second Degree Murder

On July 27th, 2012, the Juneau Empire reports that there is finally some movement on the Kevin Thornton case. The accused killers of former Juneau resident Kevin Thornton will be tried as adults, and a trial date of August 29th was set. The Empire includes photos of the three accused.

The Malvern Daily Record has more details. On Wednesday July 25th, Arkansas 7th Circuit Court Judge Ed Koon denied a motion to transfer the second degree murder charges for 18-year-old Richard Whybark, 17-year-old Timothy Norwood and 17-year-old Clinton Ross to juvenile court in a special hearing at the Grant County Courthouse. All three are represented by public defenders; Phyllis Lemons represents Whybark, Gregory Crain represents Norwood, and Phil Wilson represents Ross. All were juveniles when they allegedly attacked 19-year-old Kevin Thornton on July 20th, 2011, while the Thunder Mountain High School graduate was visiting family and friends in Arkansas. Thornton was pronounced dead on the afternoon of July 27th after being removed from life support at a Little Rock hospital, prompting the murder charges. The details of the crime are discussed in my July 28th, 2011 post. Judge Koon also scheduled a jury trial to begin on August 29th.

Charges against a fourth person, an unnamed 14-year-old, were previously dropped.

According to another Daily Record story, on Thursday July 26th, defense attorneys and prosecutors argued on motions made by the defense to sever their clients and allow them to be charged individually rather than collectively, and to suppress some evidence that was previously brought before the court. The judge took the motions under advisement and allowed defense attorneys five days to file additional briefs to support their motions.

Advocates for Kevin Thornton have organized a Justice For Kevin Thornton Facebook page to track the case and the upcoming trial.

One comment to the Empire story reflected the frustration of having an abrupt dividing line between adult and juvenile when charging perpetrators with serious crimes:

wmolson 07/26/12 - 02:04 pm:
You lost a son through the actions of three young persons, and that is a terrible loss. I, and many others are saddened at your loss.

The problem we have at times is that in our country we set a certain age as the age of an "adult." Anyone below that set arbitrary age is judged to be a juvenile, or not yet a responsible adult.

Yet in everyday life we all know that people mature, become responsible at different ages in their lives. There is no evidence or justification to say that a certain age in life, one becomes an "adult." "Juveniles" may commit "adult" crimes with full knowledge and awareness of what they are doing.

In my opinion, and it is just my opinion, I think that young people have to learn that what they do, whether they are twelve or sixteen, or whatever age, that ends the life another person or persons that they have committed an "adult" crime and must realize that they will be punished regardless of their chronological age.

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