Accused Murderer Competent To Stand Trial

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SCRANTON -- A murder suspect from Scranton was back in court Friday. His case has been on hold for almost a year.

A judge decided that Joseph Thornton is competent to stand trial.

Thornton's mental competency has been in question since last June. By that time, it was already six months since the murder of Stephanie Tyminski.

Thornton is accused of beating her to death in Scranton in December of 2014.

For the victim's family, this decision is a step toward closure.

When Scranton police charged Thornton with murder more than a year ago, Thornton denied the killing and attorneys questioned whether his mental health would prevent a fair trial.

We now know the case will go forward. A Lackawanna County judge decided that Thornton is competent to stand trial for the murder of Stephanie Tyminski.

"I believe that he knows what's going on," said Thornton's attorney Chris Osborne.  "Joe's -- like I just said -- a little frustrated with the system and I think it's been quite a while and I think he's due his day in court."

Stephanie Tyminski's family has been waiting for their day in court, too. We first met them last April on what would have been Stephanie's 30th birthday.

"On April 9, I was a complete wreck because my baby's gone. And he's living and breathing, playing the system," said the victim's mother Rosina Riggins.

Tyminski's mother, father, and aunt had hoped that Thornton would be found competent.

Thornton was Tyminski's neighbor at Valley View Terrace apartments in Scranton. He's accused of killing her because she wouldn't accept his advances.

"The best news that we got out of today was knowing that this was going to finally move forward, and our lives could start moving forward as soon as we get justice for Stephanie. Knowing there's competency, that's the best news we can ask for today," said the victim's aunt Lorraine Brady.

They believe Thornton's been attempting to stall the case but with this ruling the case can move head toward trial.

"He knows exactly what he's doing," Riggins added.  "This has been played out for a year. He killed my daughter and that's the bottom line."

Thornton's preliminary hearing has not yet been scheduled.

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