SCRANTON, Pa. -- The man accused of killing his neighbor in an apartment complex in Scranton four years ago has been found guilty of first-degree and third-degree murder.
Joseph Thornton was accused of killing his neighbor Stephanie Tyminski, a woman he had hoped to date, but Tyminski refused him.
The jury returned with the verdict Thursday afternoon after deliberating for about two hours. Members of the jury returned once during deliberations to ask for definitions of the charges.
After they returned to deliberations, Thornton's defense attorney asked that Thronton not be allowed back in the courtroom when the verdict was read, saying he feared for his safety if Thornton was there. That request was approved by the judge.
Prosecutors said that when Tyminski announced she would be moving, Thornton killed her.
Thornton was arrested in 2014. He was charged shortly after the murder in December of that year. This case has been held up for so long because of Thornton's mental health. Judges feared he wasn't competent to stand trial. He was finally deemed competent last year.
It's been a tumultuous four years for the Tyminski family from Lackawanna County.
A jury's verdict at the murder trial of Joseph Thornton provided some closure in the death of their daughter and niece Stephanie.
"Wow, it's, I'm blown away, I am so grateful, so, so grateful that he was found guilty on all these charges. It means so much. And may Stephanie finally, finally rest in peace," said the victim's aunt Lorraine Tyminski.
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Stephanie's father Gary died of cancer while the murder trial moved slowly through the courts. Family members said his absence made the verdict even more bittersweet.
"My brother Gary and my niece Stephanie are going to be resting in peace now. I don't wish this on anybody's child," said Keith Tyminski.
Thornton was Tyminski's neighbor and throughout the trial, prosecutors explained that Thornton became obsessed with her and killed her after she refused his advances.
"I'm just happy that he's guilty," said Stephanie's mother Rosina Riggins. "Hopefully, they'll give him life because he's an animal and he doesn't deserve to be out on the streets."
Thornton now faces life in prison. He will be sentenced in a few months.