Man pleads not guilty in double-killing

Published 12:05 am Thursday, June 2, 2016

VIDALIA — A Natchez man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to two counts of first-degree murder in connection with an April double-killing in Vidalia.

Curt Thornton, 35, is charged with killing his estranged wife, Angela Thornton, 36, and John Tibbs, 36, both of whom were killed at Angela Thornton’s 1649 Azalea Drive residence in Vidalia.

Defense attorney Derrick Carson has until July 8 to file pretrial motions, and the state has until July 22 to answer. The trial of motions will be on Aug. 4. A date has not yet been set for a jury trial.

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Seventh Judicial District Assistant District Attorney Ann Siddall said the state was not seeking the death penalty, but the mandatory sentence is life without benefits.

District Attorney Brad Burget said it is normally his policy to not comment on the state’s decision-making process this early in a case. He also said he has not had an opportunity to explain the decision to the family.

“Seeking the death penalty is an extremely complicated process,” Burget said. “I would reserve any comment until after I have had the opportunity to speak with the family.”

Siddall motioned for Seventh Judicial District Judge Kathy Johnson to hold Thornton without bond on the grounds he has assets, which could help him post the $800,000 bond currently set.

“The state has received reasonably credible information that the defendant does have assets, a 401K, that he was potentially trying to cash in order to get the money necessary to post a commercial bond,” she said. “He is facing life in prison and has no fixed address here. He ran the first time, so the state is concerned he will run.”

Thornton could also be dangerous if he gets out, Siddall said, as he has reportedly threatened the life of a male friend of his estranged wife, Vidalia police reported.

Siddall said the family is concerned about Thornton taking the children. Until the custody hearings take place, he is the legal father of the two children and could take them without being charged with kidnapping, Siddall said.

“We believe him to be a danger to society,” Siddall said.

Carson argued to Johnson that Thornton, a truck driver, has no assets and is not a threat to post bond. Further, nothing has changed since the original bond was set, so why change it now?

“I am asking to leave the bond as it is,” he said. “To anyone in this part of Louisiana, $800,000 is a significant bond. A bond is not necessarily to tax individuals to whatever assets they may have.”

Siddall also said someone charged with a capital offense was not supposed to have been given a bond.

Johnson ordered Thornton to be held without bond, and Carson reserved the right to revisit the issue of the bond at a later date.

Angela Thornton’s parents, Howard and Peggy Blount, thanked the judge for her decision.

“We appreciate Judge Kathy Johnson for putting a no bond hold on Curt Thornton for the murder of our daughter and John Tibbs,” Howard Blount said.

Thornton is alleged to have used a .44-caliber revolver in the early morning hours of April 6 in the killings, as Curt and Angela Thornton’s children were inside the home asleep in another room. One of the children reportedly discovered the bodies and called 911 later that morning.

Tibbs had been shot once, while Angela Thornton had been shot several times.

Entry into the house that night had reportedly been made by using a torch to melt the Plexiglas on the residence’s back door.

Thornton reportedly fled on his motorcycle following the shootings, but was captured that same afternoon in Amite County. After being stopped for riding without a motorcycle helmet, he is alleged to have admitted to the shootings to the deputy who arrested him.