A former Birmingham police officer, Curtis Jeffrey Thornton, 28 was sentenced to 100 years in prison on arson convictions related to six fires last year in Warrior and the Ensley area of Birmingham.
Thornton was found guilty June 13 of four counts of second degree arson and one count each of attempted second-degree arson and first-degree criminal mischief in four fires in Warrior and two fires in western Birmingham during April and May 2012.
Circuit Court Judge Clyde Jones sentenced Thornton to 20 years each on the four second degree arson charges and 10 years each on the criminal mischief and attempted second-degree arson charge. Thornton’s attorney indicated that he would file a notice of intent to appeal his conviction and sentence.
Thornton also was indicted in May on seven counts of possession of obscene material containing images of children under the age of 17. He has not been tried on those charges, which stem from a review of his computer following his arson arrest.
Another former Birmingham police officer, Jason Arnold, of Hoover, and a third man, Anthony Weaver, 48, also were charged with arson in connection with the two west Birmingham fires.
Jefferson County Deputy District Attorney John Geer sought the maximum sentence on each of six counts to run consecutively for a total of 100 years. Thornton continues to be in “complete denial” and that his behavior was escalating and the fires getting more serious. Geer said there may be a question about the requested 100-year sentence being longer than a murder sentence. It is rare for a person who commits murder to commit another murder. “This defendant was a serial arsonist,” he said.
Sue Thornton, his grandmother, told the judge that Curtis had always been a good child and was respectful. “I can’t believe that it has all come to this … I just can’t see him doing all of this,” she said. Thornton’s two sons, ages 7 and 8, were placed in the custody of his grandmother, grandfather and father.
Thornton’s attorney, Brett Hamock, told the judge that Thornton had no prior criminal history, had always held a job, was living in Tuscaloosa when his home was destroyed by a tornado on April 27, 2011, and that Thornton had been through a divorce and was awarded custody of his two children.
Godfrey Chrysoverges, the father of Thornton’s former fiancée and owner of house where one of the fires was started, told the judge that Thornton hurt his family. “But I think the people he hurt the most was his children… he took himself out of their lives,” he said. Chrysoverges said after the sentencing that Thornton also has a child with his daughter.
Sources: Blog.al.com, Blog.al.com archives, Sun Herald.com, ADN.com