Alleged toll plaza shooter pleads not guilty

November 6, 2009 1:06:09 PM PST
Nathan Burris pleaded not guilty today to charges that he fatally shot his former girlfriend and her friend at the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge toll plaza Aug. 11.

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Burris, a 46-year-old Richmond resident, has been charged with two counts of murder in connection with the deaths of 51-year-old Deborah Ross, a toll collector at the bridge, and 58-year-old San Leandro resident Ersie "Chuck" Everette, a Golden Gate Transit bus driver.

He has also been charged with enhancements for allegedly using a shotgun to commit both murders and the special circumstances allegations that he committed multiple murders and committed them by lying in wait, charges that make him eligible for the death penalty.

At his initial arraignment in August, Burris said he wanted to plead guilty and wanted to be executed for his crimes.

He was much more subdued in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez today when he quietly entered his not guilty plea, according to a representative from the district attorney's office.

The shootings happened during the evening commute at the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge toll plaza on Interstate Highway 580.

Ross, who had worked for California Department of Transportation as a toll collector for the past eight years, had arrived at work that day in Everette's pickup truck. While the truck was parked in the toll plaza parking lot, Burris allegedly slashed its tires and then watched the vehicle through binoculars until Everette arrived and got in.

At about 5:55 p.m. Burris allegedly approached the vehicle and shot Everette multiple times in the head and chest with a shotgun.

The gunman then ran across lanes of traffic over to toll booth No. 3 where Ross was working and began firing on her, California Highway Patrol Officer Sam Morgan said.

After the shootings, Burris allegedly fled the area and was arrested early the next morning in Placer County.

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