- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 2, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A suspected gang member was sentenced to a lengthy prison term for his role in the random beating deaths of two Lincoln men last year.

Tyler Thornburg, 23, on Tuesday was given 20 years for manslaughter and 40 to 50 years for use of a deadly weapon, to be served consecutively. Court records say Thornburg also was given 20 months to five years on an unrelated weapons case. It’s unclear whether that sentence will be served at the same time or also consecutively.

Police suspect Thornburg and 20-year-old Ricky McLaughlin III were members of the True Blue Soldiers, who used a baseball bat to beat random victims in June 2013 to make a name for the gang.

The victims were Nathan “Shane” Walton, 20, and David Mueller, 27. Walton was found beaten near his home on June 29. He died July 2. Mueller was found that same morning on a street north of downtown Lincoln. He died July 7.

An arrest warrant affidavit says Thornburg was at a party at McLaughlin’s house when they noticed Mueller walk by. Investigators said an eyewitness reported seeing Thornburg strike the back of Mueller’s head with a baseball bat after some of the partygoers went after Mueller to rob him.

Another witness told an investigator that Thornburg and some other men soon went out in a pickup, apparently looking for someone else to rob or attack. The witness said he or she saw Thornburg and two other men run back to the truck after a man was attacked with a baseball bat. That victim was Walton.

Thornburg and McLaughlin had taken plea deals to reduce charges of second-degree murder.

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