A three-time felon was sentenced to life in prison Thursday for raping a 15-year-old family member.

Jurors in 54th State District Court deliberated about 30 minutes before returning maximum penalties against Raymond Grely Thornton, 59.

Jurors convicted Thornton Wednesday on two counts of sexual assault of a child for raping the teen in 2014 and 2015.

Besides recommending a life sentence on each count, the jury also recommended fines totaling $20,000.

Thornton, a forklift operator, showed no emotion as Judge Matt Johnson announced the verdict.

Thornton will serve the sentences concurrently and will be almost 90 before he can be considered for parole.

Thornton also has four past misdemeanor convictions for assaulting his wife, including once with a chair.

Choosing punishment

While defense attorney Jessi Freud, who represented Thornton with attorney Alan Bennett, asked the jury for a 30-year sentence, prosecutors Gabrielle Massey and Hilary LaBorde told the jury that life terms were the only appropriate punishment for Thornton.

“I cannot think of a reason that he does not deserve life,” Massey said. “He is now a five-time convicted felon who has four convictions for beating his wife and still hasn’t learned. When is enough enough? The time is now. The only just sentence is a life sentence.”

The girl, who wants to be a neonatal nurse, testified Wednesday that Thornton raped her in November 2015. However, she testified her mother forced her to write a letter to the District Attorney’s office recanting the allegations, which forced prosecutors to close the case without pursuing the charges.

A few months later, she was alone again with Thornton at his residence after his release from jail, and he raped her again, she said.

The girl’s mother was indicted on a witness tampering charge in relation to the girl’s recantation. That charge remains pending.

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