Convicted Inmate Commits Suicide
LIBERTY, December 15, 2015 – After being found guilty by a jury of Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent To Deliver at around 11:15am this morning, Kenneth Ray Thornhill, DOB 12-20-66 was found hanging by the neck and deceased in a holding cell immediately adjacent to the court room at 1:pm. Thornhill had taken off his shirt and secured it to a cell bar approximately 6’ off the floor and tied the other end around his neck. He was found non-responsive by the Liberty County Sheriff’s Corporal who was preparing to take him into the court room for final sentencing.
Jail records reflect that Kenneth Thornhill with an address shown to be in the Cold Spring area of San Jacinto County was arrested by the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office for the drug offense on January 17, 2014 and released on bond of $20,000 the following day. Thornhill’s trial by jury started yesterday, December 14th. in Judge Mark Morefields 75th District Court and continued into today. The jury found Kenneth Thornhill guilty on the felony charge of Possession Of A Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver shortly before noon with the sentencing to take place at 1:pm after the jury returned from lunch.
Upon being found guilty, the court Bailiff and Court Investigator followed the standard State Jail procedures in removing Thornhill’s belt, personal property and processing him by fingerprinting and placing him in the holding cell. Just prior to being place in the cell, Thornhill ask the Bailiff if he could speak to his attorney at 1:00 PM when the court came back into session and he was assured that he would be able to do so.
Kenneth Thornhill was placed in the holding cell at approximately 11:30 AM and was then found hanging from the bar in the cell at approximately 1:pm. There were no other inmates in the cell with him. Thornhill apparently removed his dress blue shirt and used the shirt to hang himself. Justice of the Peace, Judge Stephen Hebert responded to the scene and ordered an autopsy.
After Thornhill was found, Judge Morefield in a concerned effort to determine if anyone saw or heard anything from Thornhill that would suggest his suicidal intentions talked to the jury members and the prosecution team but everyone said he appeared normal and gave no outward indication of his intentions.
Texas Rangers are heading up the death investigation with the assistance of Liberty County Sheriff’s Sgt. Investigator Billy Knox.
Kenneth Thornhill has at least two other felony convictions for drug violations in Harris County.
This is the third person in 2015 to die in custody of the Liberty County Sheriff's Department.