Burton trial starts,stops due to flu bug

The thrice-postponed trial of alleged rapist Antonio Burton started, sputtered and halted again Wednesday in Hennepin County District Court.
After a busy morning of pretrial motions, Judge Andrew Danielson’s flu virus and an unprepared affidavit from the prosecution left the courtroom empty and silent in the afternoon.
Burton is charged with 11 counts of aiding and abetting criminal sexual conduct, robbery and burglary for an Oct. 8, 1996 off-campus break-in. During the incident, two female University students were raped, and a car, a television and some jewelry were stolen.
Prosecuting attorney Steve Redding and defense attorney Joseph Margulies opened the proceedings by discussing evidence admissibility issues before Danielson. The two did agree on several points with regards to potential witnesses’ testimony.
But they are still at odds over the admissibility of evidence and testimony from a 1992 incident in which Puiassance Andersen, one of four men involved in the October 1996 break-in, was involved.
Andersen admitted to police that he and three other individuals dragged a woman from a suspected crack house in 1992 and forced her to have sex with them because she did not have the $20 they claimed she owed them.
He was not prosecuted because the woman reportedly refused to cooperate with police.
He was acquitted of the same sexual misconduct charges Burton is facing, but is serving a 12-year and 10-month sentence for burglary and robbery convictions.
Redding said he believes the defense hopes to use the 1992 incident, which it argued is similar to the October 1996 incident, to demonstrate that Anderson could have committed the rapes.
Margulies declined to comment on the case.
The prosecution argued that the two incidents are not similar enough to be presented as evidence. Danielson has yet to rule on the matter.
Andersen, his brother Giezwa Andersen, Burton and Victor M. Porter were all implicated in the October incident. Giezwa Andersen pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated robbery and agreed to testify against Burton in exchange for other charges being dropped. He is serving a five-year sentence.
Porter also pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree burglary in exchange for other charges being dropped. He was released after serving eight months of a 12-month sentence.
Pre-trial motions are expected to resume this morning.

— Staff Reporter Brian Close contributed to this report.