08.26.2017 by @Reform_Justice
David Thorne was convicted of the March 31, 1999 murder of Yvonne Layne, the mother of his 2-year-old child. Thorne was convicted on January 25, 2000, of hiring the murder, based almost entirely upon the false confession of an acquaintance, one Joseph Wilkes. Wilkes was a high school dropout at the time of the crime, of limited cognitive ability, and had a history of both sexual and drug abuse. After multiple hours of interrogation and under threat of the death penalty, Wilkes admitted to killing Yvonne Layne and named David Thorne as the person who hired him to commit the crime.
As in the case of Brendan Dassey, the interrogations of Joe Wilkes were recorded, but not before a period of coaching off-camera. In this case, Wilkes claims he was chained to a wall, sat on and beaten, threatened repeatedly, and told they “were going to light him up like the 4th of July in the Ohio electric chair.” Investigators told Wilkes they had Thorne in another room and that he was giving up Wilkes for the crime in exchange for immunity. At that point, Wilkes will was overborne and he flipped on Thorne. Joe Wilkes would go on to regurgitate a story of murder fed to him by Alliance detectives. Wilkes got many facts wrong according to the evidence. Law enforcement and prosecutors either ignored these inconsistencies or changed the murder narrative to fit Wilkes version. At trial, when asked about these inconsistencies the judge stated, “who cares about blood evidence we have a confession.”
We have seen first-hand and written at length about how the Reid Technique is repeatedly abused in the US system, even as this method has been shunned or outlawed worldwide. Our system of “justice” in the United States is based upon obtaining convictions- not looking for truth. This approach MUST end.
David Thorne had what would appear to be an air-tight alibi for the night of the crime and initially agreed to help law enforcement investigators with whatever they needed. Unknown to Thorne, sometime after he offered to appear at the Alliance, Ohio police station for questioning, his grandfather stepped in and enlisted the help of a lawyer. That lawyer faxed a statement to the police that said in part Thorne would not speak to them without immunity, thus eliciting police suspicion. It is the view of many that this one action was what ultimately lead to the conviction of David Thorne. I tend to disagree.
We will get into more detail in future articles. It is my opinion that a botched investigation at best or a corrupt cover-up at worst is what lead to Thorne’s conviction. Coupled with the interrogation of an ill-equipped and easily manipulated subject in Wilkes, this sleepy community 45 minutes southeast of Cleveland had their men. As we see time and again in cases of wrongful conviction, it is the rush to judgement and the lack of actual educated/ critical thought that condemns innocent people. Uneducated or poorly trained people investigating others and passing judgement through outdated and controversial techniques is not justice. This is not to mention outright disregard for established protocol or acceptable police work.
The view that “they got it wrong” holds if one believes the investigators were trying their best to follow protocol or to maintain a controlled crime scene. This does not appear to be the case here. Evidence that came to light later has proven just how much went wrong and was completely preventable with this crime scene and investigation. Police ignored obvious blood pattern evidence and changed the murder scenario to fit the story told them under duress by Wilkes. Detectives and civilians alike contaminated the scene and body repeatedly. The chief of police brought his girlfriend into the crime scene as a spectator. One photograph of a detectives own shoeprint was taken into evidence.
Police ignored the fact that Yvonne Layne was involved sexually with many men and was a known prostitute and stripper. She was admittedly having sex with Alliance police officers. One of whom was later identified by a witness as exiting Yvonne Layne’s home on the morning of April 1 before her body was found. That neighbor and eyewitness was later deemed “unreliable” and the information withheld from Thorne’s defense team. Police ignored the likely murder weapon found a short distance from the crime scene, and instead lead Wilkes to another knife and instructed him that this was the murder weapon. Ironically, Layne had 4” deep slashes to her throat, but the knife police insisted was the murder weapon was only 3” in length.
So many inconsistencies and improprieties existed in the Thorne/ Layne case that it has been written about in a textbook by leading criminologist Brent E. Turvey on how NOT to conduct an investigation.
The motive police and prosecutors offered for this “murder for hire” was the fact David Thorne wanted to avoid paying child support for the care of his child with Layne. This theory runs afoul of the facts in this case, however. Thorne was somewhat well-off with $132,000.00 in his bank account at the time of the murder. Police had to go back six months to find a withdrawal of $300.00 Thorne had made from his account he used to buy Wilkes a car so that Wilkes would have transportation and would not be bothering Thorne for rides all the time. Six months before the murder and we are to believe this was payment for a hit on a woman who hadn’t even filed suit for child support yet.
Thorne had also ironically already been voluntarily paying support for his child without a court ordering him to do so. Suffice to say David Thorne was a responsible parent once he learned the child was his even though the child was already 2 years old. Yvonne Layne had 4 children all with different fathers. David Thorne was the only one of the four to take responsibility for and care about the well-being of his child. Layne and Thorne were reportedly on good terms and shared custody of their child. There is also the fact that with the mother of his child dead, Thorne would have been saddled with full custody and an even greater expense than simply paying child support. The idea this crime was over child support payments is preposterous.
The case of David Thorne is symbolic of so many in this country. The system is set up to churn out convictions rather than solve crimes. There is a distinct mindset that dictates elected officials obtain convictions rather than truth (an ideal completely against what the framers of the constitution had in mind/ put in place). In this case, yet again we see mishandling of evidence, Brady violations, and the manipulation or overbearing of a young and impressionable patsy.
This article is meant to be an introduction to the case and as a way of bringing the spotlight onto yet another complete travesty of justice. In the future, we will take much closer looks at the crime scene, people involved on all sides, the evidence, the Investigation, timelines, inept representation at trial and during appeals process, and much more. We at BTR hope you will become involved and will join us in doing what we can to right this miscarriage of justice.
More case information here:
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