Judge to Decide Competency of Accused Scranton Murderer

SCRANTON, Pa. -- It's been nearly four years since a brutal murder in Scranton. The accused killer's mental health has stalled the case from going to trial.

The victim's family says they've waited long enough, and they're confident the case will finally move forward.

For the fourth time since his arrest on homicide charges in 2014, Joseph Thornton was in court for a competency hearing.

A judge must decide whether Thornton is mentally healthy enough to stand trial.

Family members of Thornton's alleged victim, Stephanie Tyminski, were in court and they say they've waited enough.

Tyminski, of Scranton, would be 33 now. For four years, her family has waited for justice.

"Missing her every day, thinking about her all the time. You know, how bubbly she was, and funny and feisty. She was a real firecracker, Stephanie, and we miss her so much," said her mother Rosina Riggins.

Stephanie's mom Rosina Riggins was in back in Lackawanna County court. Her daughter's accused killer had a competency hearing where lawyers argued over Thornton's mental health.

"That boy looked me straight in my eye when he walked in. And I looked right back at him. Because I need for him to get what he deserves," Riggins said.

Thornton is accused of killing Tyminski in her apartment at Valley View Terrace in south Scranton in December of 2014. They were neighbors, and police said she didn't return Thornton's romantic advances.

Since his arrest, Thornton's competency has been questioned four times now.

Back in February, the D.A.'s office filed a motion forcing Thornton to take psychiatric medication behind bars, by injection if necessary.

Riggins says she hasn't had much hope until now. She thinks the case may finally go forward.

"I've had four years to prepare for this. I'm ready. I'm definitely ready."

A psychiatrist who interviewed Thornton was the only witness at the hearing on Wednesday. He said Thornton is competent to stand trial.

Thornton is expected back in court on Monday. The judge may make an official ruling on his competency then.

The district attorney says he's confident the case will go to trial, maybe early next year.

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