Arkansas judge to hear motions in Thornton case

Attorneys for three Arkansas teenagers accused of killing a Juneau man will argue motions Monday to dismiss the case or transfer it to juvenile court, and try each boy individually.

Seventeen-year-old Richard Shelby Whybark and Timothy Tyler Norwood, and 16-year-old Clinton Lavon Ross are charged with second degree murder in connection with the death of Kevin Thornton, of Juneau. The teens also face an aggravating charge of violent group activity.

The Malvern, Arkansas boys have been charged in a single case in adult criminal court. Earlier this fall their attorneys filed the motions to separate the trials, saying a joint trial would violate their rights of due process and fair trial. They also moved to dismiss the case, or at least transfer the youth to juvenile court.

Monday’s arguments will be heard by Hot Spring District Court Judge Phillip Shirron, who recently announced his retirement at the end of the month, so the case will soon be moved to another judge.

Thornton was allegedly beaten on July 20th while he and another man were walking along a Malvern-area road. The 19-year-old Thornton died of his injuries on July 27th. Hot Spring County sheriff’s investigators have called it completely random violence. Thornton, a 2010 graduate of Thunder Mountain High School, had been visiting friends in Arkansas.