Burton Couple Plead Guilty to 2018 Murder at Great Western Inn

FLINT, MI – A Burton couple pleaded guilty related to the 2018 strangulation death of a Flint woman at a motel on Pierson Rd. in Mt. Morris Township.Aaron-Thornton-and-Jennifer-Harrington

Aaron Richard Thornton, 37-years-old, pleaded guilty to second degree murder for strangling and killing 28-year-old Jessica Flood in a room at the Great Western Inn on Pierson Road, just west of I-75 in Mt. Morris Township, on June 20, 2018. Flood’s body was then placed under a bed and was not discovered until a customer complained of a foul smell in the room on June 25, 2018.

Thornton will be sentenced to a minimum 25 years in prison which he will begin serving after his parole violation sentence for a conviction for assault with intent to do great bodily harm and felony firearm related to the 2012 stabbing of another woman. Thornton will be formally sentenced for the murder of Flood on February 19th.

Jennifer Leanne Harrington, 34-years-old, pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to murder for helping Thornton hide Flood’s body after she witnessed Thornton strangle Flood to death. Harrington, who had no prior criminal record and had agreed to testify against Thornton at trial will be sentenced on March 18th.

“I am pleased that we were able to convict both defendants in this case and see justice through for the victim and her family in a court of law,” said Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton. “This case, individually tragic in its own right, was the tipping point that led me to padlocking the Great Western Inn in 2018,” Leyton said. “That motel was site to numerous and repeated criminal offenses that had been plaguing that area for a long time and we shut it down for the benefit of the community and all the businesses in that area along Pierson Road,” Leyton said.

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