- Associated Press - Thursday, May 28, 2015

GREENVILLE, Miss. (AP) - Two Greenville men have pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of a World War II veteran who was also known as the Delta region’s first “Hot Tamale King.”

A Washington County judge sentenced 20-year-old Geblonski Murray to 45 years and 21-year-old Edward Johnson to 35 years in the 2013 killing of 87-year-old Lawrence Thornton, The Delta Democrat-Times reports (https://bit.ly/1dAnyqw).

Police said Murray and Johnson assaulted Thornton in his driveway during an apparent robbery attempt. Thornton died in a hospital two days later.

Washington County District Attorney Dewayne Richardson said Murray will serve the first 40 years in prison without a chance for early release or parole. Johnson, who Richardson said did not deliver the fatal blow, will serve the first 30 years of his sentence in prison.

At the sentencing hearing, Thornton’s eldest son, John Thornton, speaking on behalf of his family, addressed the court and both defendants.

“The Thornton family hopes that somewhere in the next 40 years that these defendants will think about what they did, and that it will cause a positive change in their lives in some way,” John Thornton said.

Lawrence Thornton was a World War II veteran and longtime employee of Delta Electric Co. He was known in Greenville for having opened a tamale restaurant in 1984. He served as the “Hot Tamale King” at the city’s inaugural Delta Hot Tamale Festival in 2012.

“The district attorney’s office hopes that these convictions give the family and friends of Lawrence ‘Shine’ Thornton a sense of relief that his killers have been brought to justice,” Richardson said.

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Information from: Delta Democrat-Times, https://www.ddtonline.com


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