BANGOR, Maine — A jury found the man who led police on the longest manhunt in state history guilty of murder Thursday after deliberating for 6½ hours over two days.
Robert Burton, 40, of Abbot took the stand in his own defense and said that he shot Stephanie Ginn Gebo, 37, of Parkman in the back as they wrestled for her gun after she had shot him.
The prosecution portrayed Burton as a jealous, jilted lover, who shot Ginn Gebo in the back after climbing into her bedroom window. The defense said Burton acted in self-defense after Ginn Gebo shot him and that she invited him to her home.
After the verdict was announced, Ginn Gebo’s father, Vance Ginn, 66, of Abbot wept along with other family members.
“I have been crying tears of sadness, but today, it’s tears of joy,” Ginn said outside the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor after the jury announced its verdict.
Ginn said that it was difficult to hear Burton’s sexually explicit writings about his daughter read aloud in court.
“It was devastating,” he said. “But, in order for the state to do its job, they had to do it. Because of the harsh evidence the jury saw, they came back with a guilty verdict.”
Ginn Gebo’s 15-year-old daughter, Sidney Gebo, who found her mother’s body in a pool of blood on June 5, 2015, burst into tears and hugged family members in the courtroom after jurors were dismissed. She left the courthouse without speaking to reporters.
Burton did not react emotionally to the verdict, but hugged his attorneys before being led out of the courtroom by corrections officers.
Defense attorney Hunter Tzovarras of Bangor told described Burton’s mood as “upset” after the verdict.
“But he feels he can hold his head up high because he knows that he did not try or intend to kill Stephanie,” Tzovarras said.
Assistant Attorney General John Alsop, who prosecuted the case, called Burton’s version of events “pure fiction.”
“It didn’t match up with any of the evidence,” he said.
Burton faces between 25 years and life in prison.
A sentencing date has not been set.
Alsop said he would recommend Burton be sentenced to life. Tzovarras said the defense would oppose a life sentence but not say how much time he would advocate for.
Burton will continue to be held without bail as he has been since he turned himself in at the jail in Dover-Foxcroft on Aug. 11, 2015, 68 days after police began searching for him.
He turned down an offer last year from the prosecution to plead guilty to murder in exchange for a 60-year sentence, Tzovarras said last month.
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 because the manhunt for Burton drew so much attention.
Burton offered few details about his time on the lam when he testified Monday and Tuesday. He told the jury that he ate food from the garden of a childhood friend, George Miles, and camped near his house in Abbot.
Miles gave him a “beat up old tent and sleeping bag” and told Burton he could pick vegetables from his garden at night, Burton said. Miles last week denied having any contact with Burton after Ginn Gebo’s death.