Jury selected for murder trial of man accused in April 2016 killings

Published 12:31 am Tuesday, February 14, 2017


VIDALIA — Testimony in the trial of a Natchez man accused of shooting and killing his estranged wife and another man in April 2016 will begin today.

Jurors were selected on Monday.

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Curt Thornton, 35, pleaded not guilty in June to charges he killed Angela Thornton, 36, and John Tibbs, 36, both of whom were killed at Angela Thornton’s 1649 Azalea Drive residence in Vidalia.

A grand jury previously indicted Curt Thornton on two counts of first-degree murder.

District Attorney Brad Burget said the state was seeking life without parole, probation or suspension of sentence, but not the death penalty.

Burget told potential jurors that once he lays out his case, he does not believe the question will be who committed the crime. Rather, Burget said the question would be about whether this was manslaughter or first-degree murder.

Burget said manslaughter is a crime committed in the heat of passion, while on the other hand, Burget said if the average person has had time for their blood to cool down, the crime might be more severe than manslaughter.

Manslaughter would carry a penalty of 0 to 40 years in prison for each count. The judge would decide the severity of the penalty.

Thornton’s attorney Darrell Hickman asked jurors to put themselves in a position where they find out their spouse is cheating on them, in their bed, in their home, while you are out of town for work, would they be angry?

Hickman asked jurors if they would be even more upset if they were sending money home to pay bills and later found out the bills had not been paid and the house is almost in foreclosure?

“Would you consider marriage to be the most sacred relationship outside of your relationship with God?” Hickman asked. “When you put your trust in someone, it is almost to the point where ‘I give you everything I’ve got and I’ll let you take care of me.’

“When they don’t do that, the hurt is so severe, it could cause you to snap.”

Thornton is alleged to have shot his estranged wife and Tibbs with a .44-caliber revolver in the early morning hours of April 6, 2016, as Curt and Angela Thornton’s children were asleep in another room of the residence. 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, investigators reported in April.

Investigators believe Curt Thornton made entry into the house that night by using a torch to cut through the 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.

The trial is set to begin with opening statements and testimony at 9:30 a.m. today in Seventh Judicial District Judge John Reeves’ courtroom.