By Neha Malhi
RIVERSIDE, CA – The ex-girlfriend and victim of Shaun Lay Jewel Thornton—who had his preliminary hearing in Riverside County Superior Court Friday on eight serious charges—testified she still has deep feelings for Thornton.
Thornton is charged with kidnapping, great bodily injury, eluding a police officer which causes serious bodily injury, hit and run causing death or injury, false imprisonment, inflicting corporal injury/spouse, driving under the influence—causing bodily injury, GBI domestic violence, possessing drug paraphernalia, and willful resist/delay/obstructing a peace officer.
The judge found Thornton should stand trial before a jury Feb. 14 for all the eight counts charged.
The preliminary hearing started with the testimony of a police officer who was the first one to chase Thornton on March 11, 2021. The officers said he chased down the vehicle because he was driving very fast and was suspected of driving under the influence.
The police officer called other on-duty patrol officers when the defendant refused to stop the vehicle. This chase ended when the accused crashed into a tree and jumped over the wall to evade the police officers, leaving his girlfriend severely injured in the car.
Thornton is accused of kidnaping his girlfriend and putting her life in danger by evading police officers by speeding his car.
The victim said, “He pulled into the parking lot and yelled” at her to get in but she did not “because of what happened last night,” noting she did get in the car in “fear” for her safety.
Defense Attorney Daniel Delimon showed the surveillance of the hotel where both the defendant and victim stayed and argued that she got into the vehicle voluntarily. The video showed the victim coming down from upstairs and picking something up from the floor before getting into the vehicle.
The defense asked the testifying officer whether the action of the victim entering the vehicle seemed voluntary or not.
The officer stated, “I’m not a lip reader and there’s no audio to this, so I don’t want to speculate what was being said or not said.”
Deputy District Attorney Michael Boyd argued the victim entered the vehicle voluntarily because she was afraid that she would suffer from domestic abuse again if she didn’t comply with Thornton’s request.
According to the investigating police officer testimony, the victim suffered domestic abuse from the accused the night before the crashing incident. The officer stated that, during his investigation, he found a bloody black and white women’s shirt, which was worn by the victim before the incident.
The officer stated, according to the hotel surveillance, “approximately two in the morning there’s a domestic violence related incident,” and the officer found blood on the sleeves and around the neckline.
After listening to the testimonies of the victim, patrol officer, and investigation officer, the judge decided that the charge of kidnapping was valid.
At the end of the preliminary hearing session, the Riverside County judge (name unavailable on Zoom or court records) stated, “I was curious how they met. Right, because they may strike you as totally different people… he encouraged her with a lifestyle of methamphetamine and broadened her horizons as far as addiction was concerned.”
The judge further commented, “He (Thornton) took her (victim) as a passenger on a high-speed pursuit involving several units with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, endangered her life as he crashed the vehicle and the court’s determination is it was a direct and proximate cause of significant injuries… he bailed on someone and left her and he didn’t even know (if) he was going to die.”
Regarding the victim’s testimony, the judge noted, “As the court heard her testimony, she’s probably articulate, intelligent, and she indicated in the way she testified that she still has feelings and was still involved in a relationship up until just very recently after all this happened. She still has strong feelings.
“I hate to patronize serious issues like this there’s a commercial that was on television some time ago why ask why. I almost hate myself asking those questions to see why, why—but that’s the phenomenon about domestic violence cases it’s hard to put it in perspective viewed her testimony as credible at times and not credible at others,” the judge added.
The judge also argued, regarding the victim getting into the car initially, “the more compelling analysis is that even if she did give consent initially, she was absolutely clear to this court and she was very articulate on that point that she wanted out once the pursuit began, she wanted no part of it and I consider that the testimony was very credible.”