Attempted murder defendant without 'clean soul' gets nine years in prison

Man's family emotional in court
Cary Ashby
Nov 14, 2013


The attempted murder defendant's mother cried loudly after she heard her teenage son would be serving nine years in prison.

Tyler G. Smith, 19, of 223 Hamilton St., Bellevue, smashed the skull of Austin Thornton, 19, with a crowbar in connection with what his attorney called a situation similar to "teenage Peyton Place." The victim had gone to Graham High School in the Dayton area with Smith's ex-girlfriend. He was visiting his friend, who was pregnant with Smith's child, at the time of the April 21 attack in Peru Township.

Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler called it a "horrible crime" involving a victim who is an upbeat person and decent athlete.

(NOTE: To see pictures of the sentencing, click HERE.)

Leffler, at Wednesday's sentencing hearing, said a female witness told investigators she heard Thornton's ribs crack with the first strike from the crowbar.

"She heard a shattering noise with the strike to the skull," Leffler said.

It's only through the miracle of medicine that Thornton survived, he said. One doctor gave the victim an 80 percent chance of dying.

"The EMT at the scene thought he had died," Leffler said. "This is the worst form of this offense."

Kevin Thornton, the victim's father, emotionally told the court his son requires constant supervision while he does things like using the stove.

"His personality no longer exists," said the father, who often had to sniff back tears. "He has to have 24-7 supervision. ... He's going to therapy twice week."

After the hearing, Thornton and his girlfriend said they were pleased with the nine-year prison sentence. However, Thornton's father said he was "disappointed in all five of them to put us in the situation we're in."

One of Smith's accomplices, Connor C.D. Holbrook, 19, of 840 Kilbourne St., Bellevue, goes to trial Tuesday. He is charged with conspiracy, attempted murder and obstructing justice as well as two charges of felonious assault. Holbrook earlier posted 10 percent of a $100,000 bond.

"I just hope they come out of this to be men -- be responsible," Thornton said.

Smith's grandfather declined to comment.

Holbrook's girlfriend, Brianna M. Boonie, 19, of Bellevue, has a Dec. 10 trial date on one count each of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder or murder and obstructing justice. She posted a $75,000 bond May 23 -- about four days after being arrested in court on the warrant.

Austin Thornton was clinging to life after the assault. He was released later from a Toledo hospital and then a Dayton-area rehabilitation facility.

Upon leaving the crime scene, Smith told his co-defendants, "I didn't him hit him that hard," Leffler said.

"No, you hit him very hard," the prosecutor said, quoting Boonie.

Even as young as Smith is, Leffler said the defendant "doesn't come here with a clean soul."

"The defendant's record is not so great. After 18 years of age, he stole a lot of money from somebody," Leffler said, referring to a theft case in which the victims simply wanted their money. "His parents bailed him out."

Smith said Wednesday he regrets attacking the victim.

"I lost my mind. ... There's no easy way to get around this," said Smith, who denied going to the Peru Township home to kill Thornton. "I do truly regret what I did."

On Oct. 3, Smith pleaded guilty to attempted murder. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors dismissed one count each of conspiracy and tampering with evidence plus two charges of felonious assault.

Defense attorney Tom Nicholson, in an often rambling statement Wednesday, said there's enough "blame here to pass around." When Smith's ex-girlfriend had a "Twitter war" full of vulgar language with another woman that "got others upset" and led to the attempted murder, he said Smith, Holbrook and the victim hardly did anything to intervene while "the women kept this thing going."

"Somebody should have done something; nobody did," said Nicholson, who accused the victim of telling Smith his ex-girlfriend had performed a sex act on him.

"(Smith) saw red, lost his mind and hit the guy. ... This was one blow to the head only," Smith's attorney said. "It's an ugly situation."

Leffler interrupted to say none of this information came out after "a four-hour confession."

"This is not the time to beat up the victim," he said.

Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway said even though Smith believed Thornton was sleeping with his ex-girlfriend, it doesn't justify trying to kill the victim.

"You went there with a sincere threat to kill him," the judge told Smith.

Smith, who will be on five years of mandatory parole after his prison term, must reimburse the victim and his family almost $32,000 for medical expenses.


Karma Watcher

Justice served. Let's see how the rest turn out.


9 years is not justice.


I agree. This sentence is way too light.


Way to light????? That's 9 years, there is nothing light about that, and another 5 yrs on parole. This kid will be 35 by the time he gets a second chance. There are people that get less time when a death is involved. I totally agree with the sentencing and think it is fair and just. Anything less would have been to light, and anything more would've been pushing it. I feel for the victim, and his family and hope he can totally recover. I know this has got to be hard on everyone involved. It is very sad for everyone involved, alot of damage has been done to many lives.


Like you really think he will serve the entire 9 years? And yes I do stand by my statement that the sentence was light. I bet if someone did that to one of your kids or family member you would want them to be put away for a very long time!!


AEversole is a bleeding heart....everyone needs to have a second, third, fourth, twentieth chance. In a perfect world everyone would hold hands and sing campfire songs.

Scranton Tibbs

@AEversole: Do you smoke a bowl before you post here?
You have got to be the most delusional person I never wanna meet.


At 35 he will get to start over and be a NORMAL man. The man they beat to an inch of his life will STILL be dealing with the effects of what they did to him. He many never be "normal" again. I hope they know how lucky they are to ONLY get 9 years.


I agree, but what about all the medical and home health care bills the other family will have to deal with for many years to come? Who is going to pay for them? I don't think this kid is off the hook yet. I'll bet the next step will be a civil suit against him for damages, pain and suffering.

swiss family

I can't help it... I love picture that picture you can see the bloodshot eyes,where he has obviously been crying, you get to see the desperate look, like he is saying "help me mommy" it has finally happened , the shoe is on the other foot.. I would imagine that his victim had bloodshot eyes from crying and begging him to stop bashing his skull in, I can only imagine that the victim looked around , desperately, trying to find anyone and everything to help make it stop!!!so BYE>>BYE>>>LOSER!!!! you are not so big and powerful now, are you...punk... and wait and see how powerless you will be in Prison too.....Karma is a B1TCH


This situation is no different than a person knowingly getting behind the wheel of a vehicle while he is drunk. There are all kinds of people living a challenged life because of someone driving while drunk. Not saying 9 years is a good or bad thing, just saying that drunks have gotten off lighter. If this person is handicapped, his bills can be paid for through Medicaid. (I believe)


Why should Medicaid pay his bills....the person who CAUSED this should pay them. I agree with the civil suit also. Those who caused this should pay. Many in the "drunk driver" scenario you used are sued civilly and pay as well.


According to his facebook page - the victim and his mother, who lost her job trying to care for him were homeless. It is not just medical bills. He is still in rehab and may need a caregiver for the rest of his life. This has affected the victim and his family for the rest of his life. Nine years doesn't seem like an equal trade. And it looks like the young ladies will have not repercussions at all.


Medicaid, funny you should mention that because if you work and pay your taxes, then your helping flip the bill. Does that give you a different outlook as to medicaid paying for all this? This kid may never recover. It's worse than murder in my eyes because no one wants to live the way this kid is right now!! Atleast once a person is dead they aren't suffering daily. THis poor kid has to strive each and every single day of his life to improve his health. Even if it were 9 years, this kid will still be recovering. So now you have us, the taxpayers paying for this kids stay in prison, where he gets free health care, free eye , free dental, free education, free food and a free roof over his head. This kid gets medicaid. The taxpayer lose as well, the main thing is this young man recovers to 100% and I hope thats possible, but by reading this article that doesnt seem to be the point anytime soon atleast


9 years isn't long enough! But wait it's Huron County we are dealing with!!


If your tough enough to do the crime then you have to be tough enough to do the time that you may face. Everyone knows and he had to of known that doing anything to the victim would lead to some sort of charges and he was going to face consequences. He probably didnt intend to harm the victim as he did or try kill him but young adults make irresponsible decisions and act on feelings in the moment. MANY people react that way. Both families are suffering just in different ways. More than likely this kid wont do half of his nine years. I dont think any punishment would have made this family feel justice was served because they will never have their child back to where he once was.

All taken

9 years is not long enough. That is crap!!


I'm not trying to defend a guilty man. But I think 9 years is a little ridiculous. Everyone loses their cool at one point in their life. Someone almost died, I realize that. But everyone was guilty in this situation. I don't know tyler personally, so this isn't a bias opinion. As far as connor, I don't see how he is guilty at all. how many people has used the phrase "i will help you bury the body" referring to their best friend. not a lot of people would willingly admit to it, but we all know it's true.