Former Birmingham cop Curtis Thornton takes the stand - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Former Birmingham cop takes the stand in his arson trial

Curtis Thornton, left, took the stand in his own defense. Source: WBRC video Curtis Thornton, left, took the stand in his own defense. Source: WBRC video
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

Curtis Thornton, the former Birmingham officer on trial for arson, took the stand in his own defense Wednesday.

Thornton didn't take the stand until later in the afternoon. First to give testimony was Birmingham Sgt. Jerry Williams, who says there is evidence linking Thornton to two arsons. He says that Thornton was on duty in the west precinct when a fire occurred May 8, 2012 in the 1500 block of Martin Avenue and again when a fire occurred May 21, 2012 in the 1700 block of 29th Street Ensley.

After additional testimony, the state rested its case. The defense team moved for an acquittal but Judge Clyde Jones denies the motion, saying that the jury will be allowed to hear the case.

The defense team then went into a private meeting with Thornton to discuss putting him on the stand. Thornton, who is the defense's only witness, sat on the stand for about an hour.

FOX6 News Reporter Melanie Posey says he remained relatively calm during his testimony. When the defense asked about each charged and asked Thornton if he had set the fires, he said, "No, I did not."

During cross examination, the state questioned Thornton on these statements, reiterating that about 15 witnesses had testified that he either admitted to setting the fire or talked about how pretty the flames were.

Thornton responded by saying that the majority of the state's witnesses had lied during their testimony and gave explanations for his presence at some of the fires. He also admitted to joking about the fires and said that many other West Precinct officers did the same.

The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Thursday with closing statements and then the case will go to the jury.

Thornton faces four counts of second degree arson, one count of attempted arson and one count of first degree criminal mischief. Prosecutors contend he set four fires in Warrior, where he was living after losing his home in the April 27, 2011 tornado, and that he also set two fires in the west Birmingham community of Ensley.

Reporter Melanie Posey will continue to follow this trial. You can follow her on Twitter for the latest updates.

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