Mayfield’s father, Godfrey Chryssoverges, owned two of the homes that were burned by Thornton, and testified for the prosecution in the trial.
“It was extremely difficult,” Chryssoverges said about hearing the testimony of Thornton’s crimes. “He was actually starting to become a part of my family. I just cannot believe the level of deception. But it’s over with and done.”
“I feel sorry for the man, but I feel more sorry for his children and his family,” Chryssoverges added.
Mayfield also testified that Thornton bragged to her about burning houses in Ensley that he believed were used by vagrants using drugs, telling how he set fire to curtains and similar materials that would start burning slowly. A former Birmingham Police Department colleague of Thornton’s has also been charged in those arson cases, as well as a third man who was not a law enforcement officer. (Those two men are to be tried later this year.)
Thornton is also being held on unspecified child pornography charges, believed to be related to material found on his computer during the investigation of the arson charges. That matter has been bound over to the grand jury, where it awaits one or more indictments.
Two of the four arson charges were for houses on Dana Road, and the other two were from Ensley. Thornton was also convicted one count of attempted second degree arson and one count of first degree criminal mischief — the latter for burning a shed behind one of the houses on Dana Road.
The case was unusual for jurors in that Circuit Judge Clyde Jones allowed them to directly question witnesses, instead of having to rely on those posed by the opposing attorneys. They all declined comment after the trial, except for one who said about the chance to ask questions, “It was great!”
Sentencing is scheduled for July 25. Thornton could receive as much as 20 years in prison for each of the arson charges.