Jury deliberations begin in Richmond-San Rafael Bridge toll plaza killings
MARTINEZ, Nov 06, 2012 (Menafn - Contra Costa Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Jury deliberations have begun in the death penalty trial for a Richmond man who says he has no remorse for killing two people at the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge toll plaza on Aug. 11, 2009.
In his closing statement Tuesday, defendant Nathan Burris, who is representing himself, told jurors that they should quickly convict him of fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend, Caltrans toll taker Deborah Ann Ross, 51, and her friend, 58-year-old Ersie "Chuckie" Everette, a Golden Gate bus driver from San Leandro.
"You don't need a half-hour. You don't even need five minutes," Burris said. "Let's get to the penalty phase."
If the jury convicts Burris of first-degree murder and at least one special allegation, there will be a penalty trial at which the jury would have to decide between capital punishment or life without the possibility of parole.
That is unless California voters on Tuesday night pass Proposition 34 and abolish the death penalty in the state. If that happens, the court will scrap the penalty trial and Burris will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Burris said he's fine with either fate. He spent more time during his closing statement talking about how he's prepared to "shank" other prison inmates than he did about the crimes that brought him to trial.
Burris testified last week that he fatally shot Everette in the toll plaza parking lot, and then spontaneously ran to Ross' toll booth
and gunned her down as she was on duty. He was angry because he suspected Ross and Everette were romantically involved after Ross ended their 14-year relationship. He claimed that Everette threatened him on the phone, but was not specific about the threat during direct testimony and refused to answer the prosecutor's questions during cross-examination.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Harold Jewett told jurors Tuesday that he thinks Burris' motivation boils down to money. Burris was financially dependent on the hardworking Ross for years, and Burris was either unwilling or unable to provide for himself.
"He was a little bit of a goldbricker," Jewett said.
Check back later for a complete story.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.
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