Man may face death sentence in 2009 toll plaza slayings


The Contra Costa County Superior Court jury convicted Burris late this morning of the shooting deaths of his 51-year-old former girlfriend, Deborah Ross, and 58-year-old Ersie "Chuck" Everette, said Harold Jewett, assistant district attorney who is prosecuting the case.

The case, presided by Judge John W. Kennedy, enters the penalty phase Thursday and the district attorney's office is seeking a sentence of death, Jewett said.

Since the jury found Burris guilty of murder with special circumstances, the panel may recommend that the judge impose the death penalty or sentence him to life without parole, according to court clerk's office.

The special circumstances include lying in wait for the victims, which under law makes Burris eligible for the death penalty, the clerk's office reported. The conviction comes just a day after Californians voted to not ban the death penalty.

Burris was convicted of seeking out and killing Ross, a bridge toll collector from Richmond, and Everette, a Golden Gate Transit bus driver from San Leandro, at the toll plaza on Aug. 11, 2009.

Burris, who fired rounds from a shotgun to kill both victims, first shot Everette multiple times as the victim sat in a pickup truck parked at the toll plaza where Ross worked. He then fired at Ross while she was in working inside a tollbooth.

During his trial, Burris, who represented himself, testified that he killed Ross out of hatred because he assumed she cheated on him with Everette.

He told the jury that he did not feel remorseful about the killings and at times acted in a smug manner, claiming the trial was a waste of time and that his jail cell was his "apartment" where he was "living comfortably."

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