"She had something beautiful in her heart that made her always willing to go the extra mile for people"
A FOUNDATION IN HER MEMORY FOR THE CHILDREN:
Donations can be be made to the foundation in Memory of Otilia Burton at Washington Mutual, Altadena Financial Center 1200, 2333 N. Lake Ave., Altadena, CA 91001, account number 1853562031.
...her daughter, Cristine, spoke softly of a mother who was always there for her. "She was the only one who could stop a tear. She was more than a mother. She was more my best friend. She was the one people came to when they had problems"...
"It's the loss of losing all her dreams. She just wanted to live with her children and find peace."
~~ Co-worker Dawnyell Varela
"She told us he was a good person -- just not to her... She was determined to move on and look forward. She was going to take care of herself and her children because life at home was becoming unbearable."
~~ Co-worker Cleo Alders
Otilia Burton was a role model who appeared to always find the positive in life.
~~ Co-worker Vanessa Loarco
Friends and co-workers remember Otilia Burton as a longtime supportive wife and caring mother who realized her marriage was crumbling and wanted to move on with her life when her divorce was final. She had started already, graduating from Concorde Career College in San Bernardino with a degree in nursing.
"She graduated from our school and did grea. It's a hard and difficult program, and you can't just come to school and study. I can tell you that people on the campus are very upset. She had a bright future."
~~ Jack Brozman, president of the school
..."This situation has become so unbearable and out of control that I do not know what to do," Otilia Burton wrote in court records filed as part of divorce proceedings, which she began in September... Michael Burton returned to the couple's Cartilla Court home in February, despite his wife's objections. Her lawyer, Diane Hartog, said they went to court to try to kick him out, but the motion was denied by a judge... Otilia Burton once came in with a black eye, and Otilia Burton told one of Hartog's assistants that if the divorce proceedings were completed, he would kill Otilia, the lawyer said...
...a samurai sword was used to kill Michael Burton's 35-year-old wife... he used another knife to try to stab himself... Otilia Burton had told her divorce lawyer's assistant that her husband had warned her if she went through with the divorce he would kill her... after Michael Burton moved back into the couple's home, Otilia Burton tried to have a judge order him out. "When that order was denied, she became even more fearful," Hartog said. "As the threats continued, she was afraid to go back to court for a restraining order, despite my advice to do so"... Otilia Burton believed that trying to obtain protection from the courts or police was futile and would only inflame the situation even more...
...Pictures of a vibrant and beautiful Otilia Burton were surrounded by flowers and notes of love and loss at a small memorial Wednesday... "We'll miss you." ... "It's the loss of losing all her dreams. She just wanted to live with her children and find peace."
...Michael Burton barricaded himself inside the home when deputies, answering a suicidal man call, showed up at the door... a SWAT team surrounding the home... Initially agreeing to release the children, Michael Burton changed his mind and kept the boys inside. He also told police that Otilia was unable to come to the phone... When SWAT officers finally got inside, the body of Otilia Burton, 35, was found on the floor and Michael Burton was trying to stab himself with a knife... Deputies used a Taser to subdue him... Defense attorney Winston Kevin McKesson said Michael Burton did not murder his wife and then try to kill himself, as police allege, and he is assembling a "top notch" defense team to prove it...
They stood in front of Otilia Burton's open casket for the longest time, their faces wet with tears of disbelief. They came to say goodbye to a woman whose love and loyalty are already missed. A crowd packed Sunrise Chapel at Mountain View Cemetery on Saturday to mourn Otilia... Morning light filtered through stained glass above Otilia Burton's small white coffin as her daughter, Cristine, spoke softly of a mother who was always there for her. "She was the only one who could stop a tear. She was more than a mother. She was more my best friend. She was the one people came to when they had problems" she said. Dawnyell Varela, who worked with Burton at Coco's restaurant in Rancho Cucamonga for 12 years, called her a friend and confidant to many. "That's why there are so many people here today," she said. She told Burton's children their mother loved them very much. "She talked about you all the time. She talked about grandchildren to come. She will be the angel at your side." Burton's mother, Maria Arcadia Herrera, thanked the many friends and church members who have given her family so much support... "She was always so happy and so friendly," she said. "And she always had that beautiful smile. In our hearts, we'll always have that smile with us."
...Sheriff's officials have refused to say whether the weapons used to harm Otilia Burton are, in fact, the same ones deputies previously confiscated and, if so, why the sheriff's department might have returned them to the man... [LAST TIME] The call came in May 2005 reporting Michael Burton was depressed and possibly suicidal. Deputies took him into custody for a forced psychological evaluation on grounds he posed a threat to the safety of himself or others... [THIS TIME] ...A friend of the man, who had been speaking to Burton by telephone, told deputies Burton would allow his two children to come out, but that his wife would not follow them because she was already dead, according to court documents.
Aug 26, 2006
Samauri-sword-wife-slayer-Firefighter Burton hearing set
...Burton appeared briefly in West Valley Superior Court on Tuesday, his arms still heavily bandaged because of what police say are wounds sustained during a suicide attempt after his wife's death. Burton agreed to the Sept. 25 hearing that could be postponed up to 60 days after that date...
A preliminary hearing for a firefighter accused of murdering his wife has been delayed until Oct. 17... It's the second time Burton's preliminary hearing has been rescheduled...
Burton makes brief court appearance
...attorneys are not yet ready to schedule a preliminary hearing for Michael Burton... Burton will return to West Valley Superior Court on Nov. 16.
Feb 15, 2007
Firefighter pleads self-defense
The Pasadena firefighter accused of hacking his wife to death with a samurai sword will claim at trial that the killing was in self-defense... Michael Burton's attorney, Winston McKesson, said Burton did not want to harm his wife on July 16, but was forced to repeatedly stab her to stave off her attack... McKesson said Burton is a "fragile, God-fearing man"... Deputy District Attorney Steve Mitchell, however said there is no evidence of self-defense. Instead, details from the murder scene suggest Michael Burton ambushed his wife as she walked through the door to her home... "He was sitting at home waiting to kill her, and that's what he did"... Three San Bernardino County sheriff's detectives were the only witnesses called to testify during Wednesday's hearing. They said they responded to the Burton home on Cartilla Court in Rancho Cucamonga after Michael Burton's mistress called 911... Burton called his girlfriend to tell her he had "hurt Otilia"... The woman's purse and keys were near her body, as though she had dropped them when she was attacked, [Detective Sam Fisk] testified. He said she had what appeared to be defensive slice wounds on her hands and arms... Michael and Otilia Burton were divorcing at the time of the slaying...
Jul 15, 2007
Woman's life celebrated a year after she was killed
A year has passed since Otilia Burton died, but the wounds are still fresh for her mother, Maria Herrera. The mere mention of Burton's name brings Herrera to tears - an understandable reaction given the horrific end to her daughter's bright life... Herrera, in an interview conducted through an interpreter last week, described her daughter as "a beautiful, accommodating and affectionate person. She had something beautiful in her heart that made her always willing to go the extra mile for people"... Dawnyell Varela, who worked with Otilia Burton at Coco's, said the woman remains a daily topic of conversation at the restaurant. "You would be surprised how many regular customers still come in and ask about her," Varela said. "They ask when the trial is starting, and what's going on with the case. Michael and Otilia Burton had three children together. They now live with Michael's family...
Jun 12, 2008
Still no date for samurai sword murder trial
Nearly two years after his arrest, a trial date remains in limbo... Lawyers met in court Thursday to schedule Michael Burton's trial but left without a firm date after deciding they needed more time to gather evidence and prepare. The hearing marked the 31st time Burton has appeared in court on charges he murdered 35-year-old Otilia Burton... Trial dates have repeatedly been set in the case, but were pushed back each time after the attorneys told judges they needed time for further investigation and preparation... They said they hoped to start a trial in September...
Jun 10, 2009
Defense claims self-defense in samurai sword murder trial
...Deputy District Attorney Michelle Daly disputed the defense version of events Wednesday, telling jurors in her opening statement that that in conversations the morning of the incident, Burton never said his wife attacked him, and never said he acted in self-defense. And prior to the attack, Burton confided in a friend that he wanted to kill his wife... The third witness called Wednesday by Daly was Michael Burton's girlfriend, Josefina Hernandez, who said she and Burton remained on the phone for most of the hours-long standoff that followed Otilia's stabbing. Hernandez said she received a call from Michael Burton, and he told her he had stabbed his wife. Hernandez testified that during the initial call she could hear moaning in the background, presumably from Otilia Burton. During a subsequent call, "he said that she had taken her last breath," Hernandez testified.
Jun 15, 2009
Standoff detailed in samurai sword murder trial
...Monday was the second day of testimony... For more than two hours on Monday, sheriff's personnel who responded to Burton's home testified about the lengthy standoff that ensued after Burton's girlfriend told authorities that Burton might be suicidal... Deputy Mike Mason testified that he helped the Burtons' two young sons escape from the family home in the midst of the standoff. The boys escaped through a second-floor window and stepped onto a roof that covered a ground-level patio... During testimony Monday afternoon of sheriff's Detective Robert David Pleasant, jurors were shown the clothing and shoes worn by Burton during the incident... Among the items was a pair of Pasadena Fire Department shorts...
Jun 16, 2009.
Testimony: Burton confided in friend about killing his wife
Before he stabbed his wife to death with a samurai sword and allegedly tried to take his own life, veteran firefighter Michael Burton confided in a friend about his desire to kill his wife, with whom he was engaged in a bitter divorce. Michael Batterson testified Tuesday that Burton, a colleague from the Pasadena Fire Department, opened up to him twice about wanting to harm Otilia Burton, his wife of 13 years... "She doesn't realize how close I came to just taking a knife and stabbing her," Burton told him, Batterson testified. On another occasion, Burton told his friend, "I just want to kill her"... Both Michael and Otilia Burton would confide in him about their marital problems. And when Michael Burton moved out of the family home, he often stayed in a spare room at Batterson's home, Batterson testified... San Bernardino County sheriff's Sgt. Jeffrey Notaro testified that he reached Michael Burton by phone during the standoff and tried to convince him to leave his house. Burton initially told the sergeant that he was home alone. "He said he sent his children away so he could do this," Notaro testified.
Jun 18, 2009
Suspect's injuries detailed in murder trial
Several hours after he killed his wife with a samurai sword, Michael Burton was rushed to a local hospital for treatment of his injuries, which prosecutors say were self-inflicted... The only witness to testify Thursday was Jason Chiriano, one of the doctors who treated Michael Burton at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton... Burton, 48, was in shock when he arrived at the hospital at about 7:30 a.m., Chiriano testified, and was in surgery for three- to three-and-a-half hours... Burton stabbed his wife at least 11 times with the sword...
Jun 22, 2009
Blood evidence conflicts with Michael Burton's self-defense claims
During the samurai sword attack that killed Otilia Burton, she suffered some of her wounds while she was sitting or lying down on the floor of her home, a prosecution expert testified Monday... Randolph Beasley, a crime scene specialist for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, testified for nearly four hours Monday... The blood spatters Beasley noted to support his conclusion that Otilia Burton was stabbed on the ground included blood spatters on the bottom of a glass coffee table and other spatters on walls and the ceiling that were projected at an upward angle...... The son told police he was upstairs in his bedroom while his parents fought downstairs. When his father came upstairs following the incident, the boy told police he saw a stab wound to his father's chest, McKesson said. But according to testimony Monday, there was not an accompanying trail of blood from Michael Burton's apparent chest wound...
Jun 24, 2009
Burton boys corroborate father's self-defense claims
...On Wednesday, two of the couple's sons were called to testify by Burton's defense attorney... The boys told jurors in West Valley Superior Court that they saw their father bleeding from a cut to his chest following the July 16, 2006 incident. The testimony of the two boys appears to conflict with the prosecution's theory of the case - that Burton, 48, attacked his wife, then tried to kill himself... Burton's girlfriend, Josefina Hernandez, testified that Burton never said he wanted to harm his wife prior to her death...
Jun 25, 2009.
Defense-hired doctor supports Burton's self-defense claims
...For more than an hour Thursday in West Valley Superior Court, David Posey, the defense-hired medical expert, testified about the implications of Burton's chest wound. Posey testified that based on his analysis of Burton's medical records, in-person observations of Burton's scars and other information, he believes that Burton's chest wound was "more likely than not" inflicted by another person. "I wasn't there, so I don't know," Posey testified... The trial prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Michele Daly, was critical of Posey's analysis, pointing out repeatedly that the doctor did not review statements from SWAT team members who reported seeing Burton stabbing himself in the chest. The defense attorney apparently didn't provide Posey with the deputies' statements. "Should I have known it? Yes," Posey testified. But Posey said it would not change his opinion - based on all the information taken collectively - that Burton's wound was likely not self-inflicted...
Jun 29, 2009
Burton testifies in murder trial, claims memory loss in wife's killing
Michael Burton took the witness stand in his own defense Monday, claiming that prior to killing his wife with a samurai sword in 2006, she attacked him with a Taser and stabbed him with a kitchen knife. Burton, a former Pasadena firefighter, also testified that he blacked out during a portion of the incident and has no memory of inflicting his wife's 11 stab wounds... The pair grappled over the Taser and both fell over onto a couch, Burton testified. He said Otilia Burton never shocked him with the Taser during the altercation, but she struck him in the ribs and stepped on his feet... Otilia Burton left the living room area and went to the kitchen. She reached into the drawer where the family kept kitchen knives... Burton said he ran upstairs to the master bedroom and retrieved one of the two collectable samurai swords... "That was the only thing I could find to protect myself," Burton testified. He said he waited for his wife to come upstairs to continue her attack. Burton said he also feared his wife's boyfriend, Matthew Huntoon, might be lurking in the area of the home with plans to aid Otilia Burton. His wife didn't come upstairs, so Burton said he walked slowly down the staircase holding the sword, hoping to see whether his wife's boyfriend had entered the house. As he neared the bottom of the staircase he said he saw his wife holding a kitchen knife. "Otilia, what's the matter with you?" he said he told her. Without speaking, she threw the knife at him but missed, Burton testified. She retrieved two more knives from the kitchen and walked toward Burton, Burton testified, but dropped one of the knives before she reached him. With the remaining knife, Burton said his wife lunged at him and stabbed him in the chest, then tried to hack at his right hand, which held the samurai sword. Michael Burton testified that his wife lunged at him a second time with the knife - but it's then when his memory of the incident is temporarily lost... "I didn't want to hurt her," Burton testified Monday, his voice cracking. "I just wanted to stop her from stabbing me. And I care about her despite the divorce." In an interview following Monday's hearing, two of Otilia Burton's sisters said they believed their former brother-in-law lied on the witness stand. "He's not telling the whole truth," said Claudia Villery... Villery and her sister, Lisset Mosley, said they don't believe their sister attacked Burton. They also said Otilia Burton told people she feared her husband would attack her. Mosley said she doesn't believe Michael Burton is remorseful for Otilia Burton's death, despite his tears on the witness stand Monday...
Jun 30, 2009
Jurors to hear closing arguments in Burton murder trial
Jul 2, 2009
No verdict Thursday in samurai sword trial
Jurors in Michael Burton's murder trial spent a full day deliberating Thursday in West Valley Superior Court, but failed to reached a verdict by the end of the day...
Jul 9, 2009
Mistrial declared after jury deadlocks in Burton murder case
A judge declared a mistrial Thursday after the jury weighing Michael Burton's guilt announced it was deadlocked, with six jurors favoring a second-degree murder conviction and the remaining six favoring voluntary manslaughter. The former Pasadena firefighter is now set to stand trial on murder charges a second time for killing his wife, Otilia Burton, with a samurai sword three years ago in the couple's Rancho Cucamonga home... Otilia Burton's sister, Claudia Villery, said she was surprised by the outcome because she felt there was enough evidence for a first-degree murder conviction. "I don't know what (the jurors) were looking for," she said. "(Michael Burton) thought about it, he told people. The only upsetting thing for us is he told his side of the story, but her side of the story no one can say. We know that he killed her." Jurors had the option of convicting Burton of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter - or acquitting him on all charges... Michael Burton, who will likely remain jailed until his case is brought to trial a second time, is set to return to court Sept. 4 for a routine pre-trial hearing...
Jan 30, 2010.
Retrial delayed in Burton murder case
A date has still not been set for the retrial of a former Pasadena firefighter charged with murdering his wife.
Michael Burton, 48, appeared in West Valley Superior Court on Friday morning for a pre-trial hearing in his case. Attorneys told a judge they had not yet received complete transcripts of Burton's first trial, which ended in a mistrial in June... Burton remained jailed in lieu of $1 million bail.
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