In the Case of David Thorne:


08.26.2017 by @Reform_Justice


An Overview


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.


Thorne Lawyer Immunity Request


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:

Injustice in Alliance, Ohio – The Wrongful Conviction of David Thorne and Joe Wilkes

The Wrongful Conviction of David Thorne




  • mm

    Writer, Editor, Advocate for change. Freedom is what we make it. Join the conversation.

  • Show Comments (3)

  • Debra Sullivan

    “Who cares about blood evidence, we have a confession!!?!”

    A judge should know better than any of us that false confessions are a real thing. We need a global wake up on this subject. I’m looking forward to Netflix’s confession special next month. Soon it should be part of our conversations and more accepted as a reality.

  • Debra Sullivan

    I’ve been curious about this case so thanks for this article. Are any Innocence Projects looking at it? Lots of similarities with the Avery/Dassey case which doesn’t even surprise me any more. Seems to be SOP way too often. Has the Just Us system always been this way, and if not, when did it change? Imo everything, not just LE, took a major shift after 2000, or maybe after 9/11.

    • Lynne

      Hi Debra. The Ohio Innocence Project rejected the case stating that the crime scene was so contaminated, and that even if DNA matched someone, it would be difficult to know if the person was the killer or just someone she was sleeping with. The other issue is the fact that since it was never claimed that Thorne was at her house the night of the murder, Wilkes would have to request it, but since he pleaded guilty he is not permitted to request it.

      Wilkes was clearly coerced, no doubt about it, and he recanted his confession at Thorne’s post conviction evidentiary hearing, but he is still all over the place about the events of that night.
      I spent a lot of time looking at this case and the biggest problem is that unlike Brendan Dassey’s situation in which none of the evidence supports the confession, there is a lot of evidence that matches up with Joe’s statements. There are witnesses who testified that they drove Joe to the mall, which was connected to the hotel. There’s a hotel receipt for the night, and the state produced K-mart receipts (though separate) for a knife and gloves. There were two informants who testified they saw him at the mall that night and that he said he was in town to do a job, but their statements were inconsistent (but nonetheless are still damaging), and a payphone record from the mall alleged to have been made to Thorne’s residence, but at trial they produced typed up phone numbers, and I don’t believe it actually was Thorne’s number.

      The best chance that Thorne has now is to get the crime scene items independently tested for DNA.

      The case is a mess, and it’s frustrating that Thorne is so entangled by Wilkes’ confession and evidence tying him to the area that night. I personally believe they fabricated all of it, and that he was never there at all, but has no recollection of what he did that night because the event would have held no significance to him and they didn’t bring him until three months later. I do think the investigators really messed with his head.

      If you search my blog, you’ll find several articles about the case. I really hope there is relief for Thorne at some point and that DNA testing will be conducted.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *


You May Also Like

In the case of Brendan Dassey…

            02.19.2017 by @Reform_Juctice     On February 14th, ...

Actual Innocence in Virginia: Dustin Allen Turner

      We at BTR have recently been asked to participate in ongoing ...

Ding Dong…Antifa Calling

08.20.2017 by @WinterwoodGrace   Nazi: 1 :  a member of a German fascist party ...

Presumption of Innocence? Not For Daniel Holtzclaw

08.06.2017 By @WinterwoodGrace   The presumption of innocence until proven guilty is supposed to be ...