SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – After less than two and a-half hours of deliberations, a jury in Lackawanna County has convicted a Scranton man of murder.
Just before 5:00 PM, jurors found Joseph Thornton guilty of both first and third degree murder for the death of Stephanie Tyminski in December 2014.
For the victim’s family this has been a long road to justice with questions about Thornton’s mental health and suitability to actually go on trial.
Family members of Stephanie Tyminski hugged inside the courthouse just moments after jurors found her killer guilty on all charges.
“It has taken four years but this day means the world to us!” Lorraine Tyminski, the victim’s aunt said.
Joseph Thornton was found guilty on first and third degree murder along with tampering with evidence charges and witness intimidation for killing Tyminski at the Valley View Housing Complex.
Prosecutors say he brutally beat the 29-year-old woman and then staged the scene by putting her body in a bathtub and trying to clean up evidence.
“He’s an animal and he doesn’t deserve to be out on the streets and as far as closure, there’s no closure when you lose a child,” Rosina Riggins, the victim’s mother said.
“I’m blown away. I’m so grateful, so, so grateful that he was found guilty on all these charges. It means so much and may Stephanie finally, finally rest in peace!” Lorraine Tyminski said.
Thornton was not present for any of the trial testimony.
On several occasions he told the judge he would be disruptive.
He was also not present when the verdict was read just before 5:00 PM Thursday night.
“I firmly believe he was manipulative since day one in this case and his attempts to disrupt and delay this trial is just more evidence of his manipulation,” Lackawanna County District Attorney Mark Powell said.
Before this trial even began on Monday, a judge ruled that Joseph Thornton was competent to stand trial.
His attorney actually asked that Thornton not be brought into the courtroom for the verdict out of fear for his own safety.
The District Attorney agreed that there could be a legitimate security issue.
Because of the first degree murder conviction, Joseph Thornton will face a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
The judge did not immediately set a date for that to be imposed.