Judge orders mental exam in minor enticement case

ABERDEEN (AP) — A federal judge has ordered a mental evaluation for a man charged with using the Internet and a cellphone to try to arrange sex with a minor.

U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock said in a ruling Wednesday that there’s reasonable cause to believe Michael Wayne Thornton may be suffering from a mental problem.

Thornton is charged with trying to coerce or entice a 15-year-old into sexual activity in January. He’s charged in U.S. District Court in Aberdeen.

Court records say the case originated in Lee County.

Thornton has pleaded not guilty.

His attorney asked for the mental examination.

Thornton has been held without bond since U.S. Magistrate David Sanders said in an order in August that there’s no “conditions of release that will assure the court that the defendant does not pose a danger to the community.”

The request for a mental evaluation said Thornton is on suicide watch in jail and has made statement that “call into question his mental capacity and fitness to stand trial, enter a guilty plea or assist in his defense.”