January 21, 2018
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Murder trial of man who caused longest manhunt in Maine to start Monday

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff
Updated:

The murder trial of the man who led police on the longest manhunt in state history will begin Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor with opening statements.

Robert Burton, 40, of Abbot has pleaded not guilty to murder in the shooting death of his former girlfriend, Stephanie Ginn Gebo, 37, of Parkman.

The body of the single mother of two was discovered June 5, 2015, in her bedroom by her 13-year-old daughter. The girl is expected to take the stand Monday.

Jury selection was completed Friday with nine men and six women, three of whom are alternates, being selected from an initial pool of 450 Penobscot County residents. The trial is scheduled to last eight to 10 days.

Burton has been held without bail since he turned himself in at Piscataquis County Jail on Aug. 11, 2015, 68 days after police began searching for him.

How Burton eluded authorities for so long has not been made public. Testimony during the trial is not expected to focus on the manhunt.

Last year, Burton turned down an offer to plead guilty to murder in exchange for a 60-year sentence, his attorney, Hunter Tzovarras of Bangor, said last month at a hearing on pre-trial motions.

A decision about whether Burton would testify in his own defense had not yet been made. The attorney declined to discuss his trial strategy but last month referred to the shooting as “an accident.”

The prosecution and defense teams agreed to move the trial from the Piscataquis County Courthouse to Bangor out of concern that an unbiased jury could not be seated in Dover-Foxcroft due to extensive pretrial publicity during the manhunt.

[DA talks about murder suspect’s violent history as manhunt continues]

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 slept with a handgun, according to an affidavit released after Burton’s first court appearance in August 2015.

She died of two gunshot wounds in the center of her back with her own gun, which has not been found. A pillow was used to muffle the sound of the shots, state police Detective Thomas Pickering said in the affidavit.

Burton, a convicted felon, is also charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

Superior Court Justice Robert Mullen, who is presiding over the jury trial, will decide if Burton is guilty on that charge.

If convicted of murder, he faces between 25 years and life in prison. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted of the gun charge.

 


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