A 25-year-old man was sentenced Friday to 40 years in prison after pleading guilty to killing a Fort Worth woman for whom he ran errands, then hiding her body in the trunk of her car near Waco.
David Dominique Rhone bludgeoned Adrian Thornton with a hammer and then fatally stabbed the 59-year-old woman because he needed money to take a road trip with his then 16-year-old girlfriend, the girlfriend previously told detectives.
The girlfriend, Kandasha Sheree Byers, also participated in the slaying and pleaded guilty to murder in May 2014 in juvenile court in exchange for a 30-year sentence.
Byers was initially sent to a juvenile correctional facility but was later transferred by the court to adult prison.
Now 19, she is incarcerated in the Christina Melton Crain Unit in Gatesville and is not eligible for parole until February 2029.
Rhone was indicted on a capital murder charge in the case but pleaded guilty Friday to the lesser charge of murder. State District Judge Louis Sturns then sentenced him to the agreed-upon term of 40 years in prison in a hearing that took only minutes.
Rhone must serve half of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.
His attorney, Steve Gordon, said Rhone is “sincerely remorseful.”
“This is very rare for someone to take responsibility when the plea offer is pretty significant, but he did take responsibility, and he’s going to do his time,” Gordon said. “The idea being hopefully he’ll see the sunlight again at some point.”
Thornton, 59, was reported missing to Fort Worth police by a longtime friend on June 15, 2013.
A week later, a road crew discovered burned property of the missing woman, including a key chain and debit card, outside Marlin in Falls County.
On Set. 22, 2013, a man looking for deer stumbled upon Thornton’s car hidden in the woods of Falls County.
In the trunk, authorities discovered Thornton’s remains wrapped in a comforter.
An autopsy later determined she had died from multiple stab wounds to the upper chest.
Rhone and Byers were arrested in connection with the slaying in December 2013.
At Byers’ sentencing hearing in May 2014, prosecutors read aloud summaries of interviews given by Byers and Rhone to homicide Detective J. Cedillo, in which the pair acknowledged hatching a plan to rob and murder.
They, however, blamed each other for killing the woman with a hammer and knife inside the woman’s home in the 5600 block of Oakmont Lane.
Byers also testified in May 2014, providing yet another version of what happened and claiming that she only went through with the murder because she was scared of Rhone.
Watler Williams, Thornton’s nephew, was present during Friday’s sentencing but declined to comment.
Prosecutor Catherine Simpson said that while she would have been happy with a life sentence, prosecutors worried that the defense might have called Byers to testify in the trial.
“She has given 90 different versions of what happened, so who knows what a jury would believe, quite frankly,” Simpson said.