Former McDonald’s employee sentenced to 100 years in prison for stabbing, robbing customer

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Kanawha County judge has handed down the maximum prison sentence for a former McDonald’s employee who stabbed and robbed a customer last year.

Richard Thornton (SCRJ)

Judge Kenneth Ballard sentenced Richard Thornton, 32, on Monday to 100 years in prison on a first-degree robbery charge. The incident happened in the Elkview McDonald’s bathroom in Jan. 2023.

“You attacked a stranger in the bathroom of the McDonald’s completely unprovoked. After stabbing him multiple times in the face and neck, you took his wallet. He had to be rushed to the hospital to be treated for these life-threatening stab wounds,” Ballard said as he addressed Thornton in court.

Kanawha County deputies arrested Thornton at a nearby gas station shortly after the incident. Deputies said Thornton was carrying the victim’s wallet and a bloody knife with him at the time of his arrest.

Kanawha County Chief Deputy Joe Crawford previously said Thornton was just looking to steal and called it “a crime of opportunity” since Thornton did not know the victim.

The victim, a 57-year-old man, was in court Monday but declined to speak or provide a victim impact statement.

Thornton apologized to the man he injured and asked the judge to go easy on him.

“There’s nothing I can ever day or do to change what happened or to take this back or to even begin to ask for any kind of forgiveness,” Thornton said. “I’m terribly sorry for this man and what had happened to him. I’m here hoping to get fair judgement today and wish him the best of luck with his life.”

Ballard said not only did Thornton risk another man’s life, but he also threatened others before the McDonald’s incident.

“Over the years you’ve threatened and chased family members with hatchets and with knives, also EMS workers,” the judge said. “Your fixation with knives and your history of extreme violence, I find you a serious danger to this community and a high probability that you will reoffend if I release. I have a duty to protect this community.”

Thornton’s attorney argued his client should’ve received a lesser sentence to allow for mental health and drug treatment.

Thorton will be given credit for time served which is 492 days.

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