Monday, March 21, 2016
Defendant Conspired With Booth (No Not John Wilkes)
The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed a conspiracy to murder conviction notwithstanding the acquittal of the alleged co-conspirator
The instant case is one of first impression only inasmuch as it concerns inconsistent conspiracy verdicts between jointly-tried co-conspirators and as it concerns the validity of the dicta in Smith v. State, supra. Now having considered the matter, we see no reason why Milam and its progeny would not be applicable to this case. Here, the jury convicted appellant of conspiracy to murder and acquitted her co-conspirator of same, but also found her coconspirator guilty of the lesser crimes of making false statements. Given this outcome, it is plausible that the jury’s decision constituted a mistake, compromise or lenity, none of which warrant intruding into its deliberations. This approach is consistent with federal cases which have followed Powell by declining to reverse the conspiracy conviction of a co-conspirator when the other co-conspirator has been acquitted by the same jury and under the same evidence.
The conviction had been affirmed by the Court of Appeals.
The Mirror had the story of the trial
A Wayne County jury acquitted a woman and her male coworker on murder charges Wednesday night but found them both guilty of other crimes in her husband's slaying last year.
Patti Thornton and Walter G. Booth were found not guilty of killing Thornton's husband, Richard "Shell" Thornton III, 46, at the couple's rural K-Ville community home on Dec. 14, 2007.
Booth, 60, of Odum also was acquitted of conspiracy to commit murder in the fatal shooting...
A well-known farmer, Shell Thornton was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head in a bedroom at the ransacked home on Big Creek Road home near the Wayne-Appling County line.
Patti Thornton's mother, who lives nearby, called 911 and said her daughter had returned home from an errand, found her home in disarray and left frightened without going inside.
Testifying in her own defense, Thornton denied killing her husband or arranging to have him slain. She also denied having an affair with Booth.
Booth did not testify. Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents testified that Booth had told them that he was at a convenience store when Shell Thornton was killed.