In an earlier post, I described how David was convicted based on the coerced confession of Joe Wilkes, the confession that was gained after police led Joe to believe that David implicated him in the murder and that he could be facing the death penalty. Joe confessed to murdering Yvonne and alleged that David paid him $300 to kill her. The problem is, the murder couldn’t possibly have taken place the way Joe described.

Alliance police narrative by detective Sampson:

“Due to Wilkes and Layne knowing each other, the two went to the couch and conversed while seated on the couch….While talking, Layne had turned her head away from Wilkes, like she was listening for one of the children.  Wilkes has reached into his pocket and pulled out the knife, and with one swift move grabbed Layne by the hair, pulled and cut the throat with the knife.  Layne, after having her throat cut bounded to her feet in an attempt to get away from her assailant.  She runs toward the glass sliding doors but stopped.  She turned around to face Wilkes and in her last dying breath asked “why did you do that?”  Wilkes, while looking Layne in the face told her “David wanted me to”.  After that Layne fell over to the floor and died on her living room floor.

Brent Turvey, a well known and respected forensic expert (he also worked on the West Memphis 3 case) reviewed the evidence in this case in 2003.  He concluded that the murder couldn’t possibly have occurred the way Wilkes described it to police.

From Turvey’s report: These versions of events from Joseph Wilkes are absolutely contradicted in this case. Furthermore, these versions of events are by themselves unreasonable and unsupportable.  This conclusion is supported by the following facts evident in the crime scene and autopsy photos.

note: the entire report can be found on David Thorne’s website. I didn’t want to link to it because it is very graphic.

A. As provided in conclusion #1, the attack began at the sliding glass door.  It did not start at or on the couch.  Had it began on the couch in the position described by Mr. Wilkes, there would have been arterial gushing along the back of the couch and the wall above the couch at the very least.

B. If the victim had tried to leave, there would be bloody handprints on its surface or on it’s handle.  No such evidence exists.

C. If the victim had tried to run to the sliding glass door and tried to leave out of desperation and/or panic and/or fear it defies reason that she would suddenly stop, turn around, and demand an explanation from her assailant. This would increase her danger of being injured again.

D. Even if the victim had run to the sliding glass door, and suddenly tried to turn around to speak to her assailant, she would not have been able to. She would have been light headed from extreme blood loss, losing her vision and her balance.  She also would have found it nearly impossible to speak through her severed trachea.

E. The victim’s neck injury released continual arterial spurts until she collapsed on the floor in front of the couch. There are no spiraled arterial spurt patterns. This indicates that the victim did not turn to face her attacker after receiving her neck injury.  She moved in a curved path from the sliding glass window to the living room.

Mr. Turvey describes his observations of the crime scene in a 27 page detailed document. Thus far however, no judge has granted a new trial based on this critical information.  Additionally, Wilkes recanted his confession since the trial.

Another important piece of evidence that never made it into the trial, was an eyewitness report from a neighbor of Layne’s. George Hale noticed the crime scene tape the afternoon of April 1st when police were investigating the murder.  He approached police to inform them that he saw a man exiting the residence with a trash bag at approximately 9:30-10 that morning. He also gave a description of the man. Later, they showed him a photo line-up and an Alliance police officer was included in it.  Mr. Hale identified the officer and police told him that was impossible. The next day they had him look at another photo line up, this time David Thorne’s photo was included. He did not identify David. He was never shown a photo of Joe Wilkes. None of this information was provided to the defense and Mr. Hale did not testify at the trial. It’s worth mentioning that Yvonne had some recent negative encounters with police and one of the officers had recently tried to force himself on her when she was pulled over for expired plates. This information could have helped David’s case and the jury certainly should have heard it. The report can be found here.

Imagine how differently the trial may have gone if the jury had heard from Mr. Hale, and if they had had an opportunity to hear from a crime scene specialist like Mr. Turvey.  It quite possibly would have had a different outcome.  The information described here that did not make it into the trial, along with the fact that Wilkes recanted his confession should warrant a new trial for David Thorne.  He’s been in prison for 13 years now….it’s time.