Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

March 27, 2014

Area man reaffirmed as competent to stand trial for first-degree murder

TAHLEQUAH — Court documents filed late last month reaffirm previous findings that a Muskogee man accused of first-degree murder is incompetent for trial.

Daniel Prentice Thornburg, 44, is one of two people to have been charged with the 2007 shooting death of Ronnie Hall.

The second defendant in the case, 61-year-old Robert Lee Smallen, was found guilty of first-degree murder last year amid his second jury trial. Smallen is appealing the conviction.

During Smallen’s first trial, jurors deadlocked and a mistrial was declared.

Prosecutors later charged Thornburg with Hall’s murder, though Thornburg had been a key witness for the state in their case against Smallen.

Prosecutors allege Hall was shot multiple times at Horseshoe Bend in the summer of 2007, and his body dumped in the waters.

A minute order signed last month by Associate District Judge Mark Dobbins shows Thornburg has proved, through a “preponderance of evidence,” to be incompetent to proceed with the criminal process.

Thornburg is now expected to file documents to address whether charges should be dismissed without prejudice.

In 2010, a licensed psychologist ruled Thornburg was likely unable to provide “reliable and believable testimony.” A second licensed psychologist later told a judge that Thornburg would be unable to consult with his attorney or rationally assist in his defense.

jnewton@tahlequahdailypress.com

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