Prosecutors push for trying Arkansas defendants together in adult court

Prosecutors have filed their response motions in a case centering on three Arksansas teenagers accused of murdering a young Juneau man, but it’s unclear when the judge will consider the motions or next hold a hearing in the case.

16-year old Timothy Tyler Norwood, 16-year old Clinton Lavon Ross, and 17-year old Richard Shelby Whybark have each been charged with second degree murder. They’re accused of beating 19-year old Kevin Thornton to death in July in the Malvern area.

Attorneys for the boys say the cases should be split up and proceedings should either continue in juvenile court or be dismissed.

In series of responses filed late Monday, deputy Hot Spring County prosecuting attorney Richard Garrett argued against severing the cases between the three remaining defendants. He points to Arkansas state rules governing severance, such as whether there are conflicting defenses or antagonistic defendants, or whether the evidence favors one defendent more than another. A new standard is whether the judge or jury may be unable to distinquish the evidence between each offense and defendant. Garrett believes that the case does not meet those rules.

In another set of duplicated response motions, Garrett also argued against dismissal or transfer of the teenagers to juvenile court and maintained that their prosecution is still constitutional under Arkansas law. In part, he argues that prosecution of the three teenagers as adults is still valid because of the seriousness of the alleged crime, its aggressive or violent nature against a person, and the culpability of the defendant.

Hot Spring County court officials say the next hearing in the case has not been scheduled yet.

There was a fourth boy, a 14-year old, initially reported as allegedly involved in the encounter, but prosecutors have dropped charges against him.