After one year, four months, three postponements and four defense attorneys after allegedly raping two University students, Antonio Burton was expected to finally stand trial today in Hennepin County District Court.
Add one sick judge to the list of delays.
Judge Andrew Danielson is home sick with the flu. The illness will probably delay the trial at least one more day.
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 of the three female University students who lived in the apartment were raped. A car, a television, a stereo and some jewelry were stolen as well.
Originally, Burton was to stand trial April 7 of last year, but that was postponed to Oct. 14 when Burton changed lawyers. But just as the October pretrial motions got underway, defense attorney James Stewart’s chronic illness forced him off the case and pushed Burton’s trial into 1998. Joseph Margulies was named Burton’s new attorney and the Feb. 10 date was set.
The date has arrived, but illness will prevent the judge from presiding.
Also, prosecuting attorney Steve Redding said a number of pretrial motions could further delay the start of jury selection anywhere from a day to a week.
“We have some initial issues to go over,” Redding said. “These motions will be important to the trial. We’ll be going over most of it in chambers.”
He said the two lawyers would argue whether three police interviews with Burton could be admitted as evidence.
Burton was charged in the incident along with three other individuals: brothers Giezwa and Puiassance Andersen and Victor M. Porter.
Puiassance Andersen is serving a sentence of 12 years and 10 months after being convicted of three counts of aiding and abetting robbery and one count of aiding and abetting burglary. He was acquitted of the same sexual misconduct charges faced by Burton.
Porter pleaded guilty to one count of first degree burglary in exchange for having other charges dropped. He also testified against Puiassance Andersen. He was released after serving eight months of his 12 month sentence.
Giezwa Andersen is serving a five-year sentence after pleading guilty to two counts of aggravated robbery. His sentence was reduced when he agreed to testify against Burton.
Neither Burton, who is being held in Hennepin County Jail, nor his attorney could be reached for comment.