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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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12/5/2012 9:59:00 PM
Former public defender who pulled gun on bouncer sentenced
Scott Orr
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - A former public defender who took a plea deal in a case in which he threatened a man with a gun has been sentenced to four years' probation and 500 hours of community service.

Former Deputy Yavapai County Public Defender John R. Thornton Jr. originally faced an eight-count indictment including aggravated assault, disorderly conduct, and criminal trespass, but he accepted an agreement offered by the state and pleaded guilty to one count of attempted aggravated assault.

Thornton, 52, was arrested after a November 2011 incident at a Prescott bar in which police said Thornton was asked to leave, then shoved a bouncer.

About 15 minutes later, a police report said, the bouncer was off work and got into the passenger seat of a car driven by a friend. When the car stopped at an intersection, Thornton allegedly walked up, pulled a handgun and pointed it at the bouncer through the car window. The bouncer pushed the gun away and told his friend to drive off.

Police located Thornton in the 100 block of North Granite Street and took him into custody. According to the police report, during an interview, Thornton denied having a gun while he was in the bar, said he did not point it at the bouncer and was not asked to leave the bar.

Thornton was put on administrative leave from the Public Defender's Office and subsequently resigned.

While Thornton was out on bond in that case, he was allegedly involved in another altercation on Aug. 18.

A police report on the August incident said that Thornton was drunk when he got into a physical altercation with a 44-year-old man and had to be taken to the hospital.

The victim declined to press charges, the report said.

Deputy Coconino County Attorney Brian Shea, who was prosecuting Thornton's original case, filed a motion to revoke Thornton's bond because he broke the law by assaulting the victim and had consumed alcohol, both violations of the terms of his release.

Shea dropped his request, though, once he was told that Thornton had checked into a Prescott rehabilitation center for a 90-day inpatient treatment program.

To avoid potential conflicts of interest, the case was heard by Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen; the prosecutor was Shea, and Thornton was represented by Roberta McVickers of the Coconino County Public Defender's office.

Jantzen could have sentenced Thornton to as much as 3.75 years in prison.

His conditions of probation specify no alcohol possession or consumption, 500 hours of community service, participation in counseling, no possession of a firearm, and random alcohol screenings.



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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, December 09, 2012
Article comment by: Just Saying

I am with R. Summit. If an agent of the illegitimate government representing the United Sphincter of America confronts me with force they will be met with like.

Posted: Saturday, December 08, 2012
Article comment by: R Summit

The system is corrupt and illegitimate. I am of a growing number of people who will no longer obey the illegitimate government or their agents.

Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2012
Article comment by: Uncle Remus

I don't see if his conviction is a felony or not. If it is don't be surprised if it can be reduced if he behaves for the term of probation and resumes his law career.
If so this can turn out to be good for his resume. "Hey. I've been down that road pal and don't sweat any attempted aggravated assault beef. I'll get you 4 years paper and they will reduce it after you get off probation. Don't worry about it. I'm telling you from first hand experience and besides I got the judge right in my hip pocket"!!


Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2012
Article comment by: Iggy Its who you know

Maybe he can get together with Elise Townsend and Renzi tear a herring and have a good few laughs. Nuh..pillars of the community.

Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2012
Article comment by: Dale Wilson

This man got a break because he knows the inner-workings of our CRIMINAL justice system. His sentence is a form of "hush-money" lest he tell tales which would bring down this corrupt system.
I too wish him well on his road to recovery. It is a tough road and contains many pit-falls. One cannot live with a divided mind very long without experiencing some cognitive dissonance. As the Bible says: "A divided mind is unstable in all of its ways"


Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2012
Article comment by: Un Just

I'm appalled, but not shocked at this sentence. It is such a disgrace to see how someone of stature can be given special treatment, especially when our young people who make a mistake or two, get 10 years or more in the prison system. If their lives aren't ruined already,it will be by the time they get out, if they make it out. Our justice system, especially in Yavapai County is corrupt.

Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2012
Article comment by: Dear: TD

If you point a gun at another citizen and don't worry about prison, you have serious issues.

Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2012
Article comment by: Just saying

Rich and "connected " people do not face the same punishment in this country as the poor and powerless. Another example that the citizens have to reference to go allong with the millions of examples already on the books. There is no legitimacy to this system. Therefore, no need to obey this system's "authorities".

Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2012
Article comment by: I Always Suspected

I always suspected that defense attorneys were, themselves, criminally predisposed. How else could you in good conscience defend some of these criminals we read about? It also explains how defense attorneys are able to come up with their often times ludicrous defenses of these criminals...they feel a camaraderie with them.

I do wish Mr. Thornton well in his addiction recovery. Addiction is a terrible thing to live with & I wouldn't wish it on even a defense attorney.


Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2012
Article comment by: Carl Imparel

Good luck John hope things work out for ya

Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2012
Article comment by: Total Disgrace

There isn't much to say about this. It's a complete mockery of justice. The message from the court is quite clear: you can point a gun at another citizen and NOT worry about going to prison, or even a long jail term for that matter. That's pretty awful, especially because it's TRUE. The proof is right here in this article. Somebody prove me wrong.



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