Thornton Convicted Of All Charges, Including First Degree Murder

January 10, 2019

SCRANTON — A Lackawanna County jury today convicted Joseph James Thornton of all charges, including first degree murder, in the death of his neighbor Stephanie Tyminski.

Testimony at Thornton’s trial on first- and third-degree murder and other charges wrapped up late this morning in Judge James Gibbons’ courtroom.

Investigators charged Thornton, 30, with beating the 29-year-old victim to death on Jan. 9, 2014, in her apartment at Valley View Terrace in South Scranton, where they were neighbors.

In his closing argument to the jury of six men and six women, District Attorney Mark Powell said after four years, Tyminski deserves justice and her family deserves closure.

Powell reviewed the evidence the prosecution presented at the trial and said it all points to Thornton as the person who killed Tyminski.

He described Thornton as someone obsessed with his victim despite her lack of interest in him — someone who stalked her, eavesdropped on her and went through her garbage.

“He was the neighbor from hell. ... This was a sick individual,” the prosecutor said.

Defense attorney Christopher Osborne conceded in his closing that while there was a fight between Thornton and Tyminski that resulted in her death, the defendant neither acted with malice nor had the specific intent to kill — elements necessary for first-degree murder.

He described Tyminski’s killing an “unintended consequence” of a sudden and intense act of passion that Thornton took “way, way too far.”

“Joe knows what he did, but he didn’t mean to do it,” Osborne said.

Thornton, who has a history of outbursts and argumentative behavior in court, made only three appearances at the four-day trial, all brief and all outside the presence of the jury.

Gibbons offered multiple times to allow him to remain in the courtroom and participate in his defense if he would agree not to disrupt the proceedings. However, the defendant indicated he would not comply unless he could represent himself, a request the judge repeatedly denied.

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Contact the writer: dsingleton@timesshamrock.com, 570-348-9132

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