Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Killers Of Kevin Thornton Cop Plea Deal; Two Plead Guilty To Second-Degree Murder, Receive 20-Year Prison Term

A big step towards closure in the Kevin Thornton case was taken on August 22nd, 2012 when the three perpetrators learned their fate after accepting plea deals. The details of the crime are discussed in this previous post.

Richard Shelby Whybark, now 18, and Timothy Tyler Norwood, 18, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and each were sentenced to 20 years in prison by Arkansas 7th Circuit Court Judge Ed Koon. Whybark was credited for time already served. The third defendant, Clinton Lavon Ross, 17, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge, aggravated assault, a felony. He was sentenced to five years probation, plus six years in suspended jail time, which could be imposed if he violates the conditions of his release. Ross chased Thornton but did not participate in the beating.

All three defendants were also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, $150 in court costs and a $250 DNA fee.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Richard Garrett was not reluctant to take the case to trial, but was concerned the perps might have received a lighter sentence because of their youth and the fact that two of them had a negligible criminal history. Garrett sought approval from Thornton’s parents, who live in Juneau, before going ahead with the deal.

Thornton’s mother, Darlene Thornton, read the following victim's impact statement at the hearing: “Kevin’s death has been devastating to our whole family. It has hit us all emotionally and financially, some of us physically. You have taken away the life of our son: the wedding that could have been, the grandchildren that we will never hold and the brother that his sister (is) missing so strongly. Only in time will justice truly be served.”

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