BANGOR, Maine — The murder trial of Robert Burton, the Abbot man who led police on the longest manhunt in state history, has been delayed because he fired his court-appointed attorney.
Burton, 39, has pleaded not guilty to murder in the shooting death of former girlfriend Stephanie Ginn Gebo, a 37-year-old single mother of two. Ginn Gebo’s body was discovered in her Parkman home by her 13-year-old daughter on June 5, 2015.
After Burton’s backpack was found outside the window of the first-floor bedroom where Ginn Gebo had been shot, police began searching for Burton. He eluded them for 68 days. H e turned himself in at Piscataquis County Jail on Aug. 11, 2015.
Jury selection in his murder trial was scheduled to begin Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.
Burton’s attorney, Jeffrey Toothaker of Ellsworth, said Wednesday that Burton last week filed a motion seeking a new attorney. Superior Court Justice Robert Mullen granted the motion.
Bangor attorney Hunter Tzovarras confirmed Wednesday that he has agreed to represent Burton but has not been formally appointed.
Toothaker, who was expected to argue that Burton acted in self-defense, estimated the change in attorneys will delay the trial at least a year.
Tzovarras declined Wednesday to discuss trial strategy because he has not yet met with Burton.
The trial was moved from the Piscataquis County Courthouse in Dover-Foxcroft to Bangor because of concerns a jury could not be seated there due to pretrial publicity. Burton has asked that the trial be held in Piscataquis County, according to Toothaker.
Ginn Gebo broke up with Burton the week before her death and was so afraid of him that she changed the locks at her home and was sleeping with a handgun, the six-page affidavit released after Burton’s first court appearance a year ago said.
The victim had two gunshot wounds in the center of her back. Evidence indicates that a pillow was used to silence the sound of the shots, the affidavit filed by state police Detective Thomas Pickering said.
Before Burton surrendered, Piscataquis County Sheriff John Goggin said Ginn Gebo was shot to death with her own gun after wounding Burton as he broke into her home.
Information about where Burton stayed or how he survived while on the run has not been made public.
Burton is being held without bail at the Piscataquis County Jail. He is not expected to be released before his trial.
BDN writer Nok-Noi Ricker contributed to this report.