Yvonne Layne was murdered in her home on March 31st, 1999. David Thorne was convicted and sentenced in January, 2000, after being charged with complicity to aggravated murder/murder for hire. There is overwhelming evidence that David was falsely arrested and wrongfully convicted in the death.
David and Yvonne had a then two-year-old child together. David was unaware that he had fathered a child until he was asked to provide DNA for paternity testing in April, 1998. Before test results were in, David began visiting the child and developing a relationship with him, his brothers and their mother. When Yvonne was murdered nearly a year later, newly established paternity and child support payments were cited as the motive, despite evidence of David’s generosity to Yvonne and her children.
David, who had a iron-clad alibi, was implicated by Joseph Wilkes, a mentally and emotionally impaired man, after Joe was arrested and bullied by police officers. They told Joe that David Thorne was “in the next room” implicating him to save his own life, which was not true. David wasn’t at the police station and had never been interviewed by police. According to Joe, officers offered him a choice of confessing or facing the death penalty, and denied him access to an attorney. As Wilkes sat “trembling and shaking his head in disbelief”, he chose the save his own life and implicate his friend in a crime neither of them took part in. Joseph Wilkes has since recanted his confession.
Nothing led to David except the coerced statement of Joseph Wilkes. Joe, at David’s trial, answered “I don’t know” or “I don’t recall” 138 times during his testimony. He described the crime inaccurately, even getting the room the victim was killed in wrong. He stated in court that he was saying what “they” told him to say. According to Forensic Scientist Brent Turvey, who testified at David Thorne’s post-conviction hearing, Joseph Wilkes got every detail of the crime wrong, except the type of weapon used.
Witnesses brought by the prosecution to bolster Joe’s confession have since admitted to investigators that they altered their stories to implicate David. Defense witnesses were present in court but were never called to testify. Detectives didn’t bother to verify David’s alibi.
Since the trial, two witnesses were discovered in police documentation not previously provided to the defense. One witness saw a man walking into the victim’s house the night of the murder and another witness saw a man walk out of the front door of the house the next morning while the body was, as of that time, undiscovered. The witnesses gave descriptions of the man they saw that did not match David Thorne or Joseph Wilkes. One of the witnesses was shown three photo line-ups, one that included David Thorne and one that included both David Thorne and Joseph Wilkes. He did not choose either man as the person he saw walking out the front door the morning the body was discovered. According to this witness, he did choose a man out of the line-up that did not include David Thorne, and was told he had to be mistaken, because the man he chose was a police officer.
Detectives had numerous suspects brought to their attention that they didn’t bother to follow up on. One man came to the police station to be interviewed, but was released after refusing to waive his rights. An APB was put out on another suspect, but he was never brought in for questioning. The victim’s child, present at the scene, repeatedly screamed a man’s name, saying the man “hurt mommy”. Police did not follow up on that information.
Despite an enormous amount of evidence and numerous statements pointing to David’s actual innocence, he remains behind bars. He has proclaimed his innocence from the start. He offered to take a polygraph test, but was denied. It’s time for the truth to be told.