Burton sentenced to 25 years

by Brian Close

A judge sentenced convicted rapist Antonio Burton to nearly 25 years in prison and 13 years of supervised release Thursday in Hennepin County District Court.
Burton, who said he will appeal the decision, was convicted in March of 11 counts of rape, robbery and burglary, stemming from an October 1996 break-in of a Dinkytown apartment in which two female University students were raped.
Burton is the last of four men to be tried for the crimes. The other men were acquitted of the sexual assaults.
All three women, two of whom were present, wrote statements on their feelings about the incident, which were read by an official from the district attorney’s office before the sentencing.
“I want to take away his freedom,” wrote one. “I want him to know what it feels like to take away his freedom, like he took mine.
“He embedded a silent nightmare that will never leave my mind.”
After the women’s statements, prosecuting attorney Steve Redding asked the court to consider the severity of the crimes in sentencing Burton.
But defense attorney Joseph Margulies argued that Burton’s childhood contains mitigating circumstances that should reduce the sentence.
“Tony’s been beaten more times than a healthy child should be hugged,” he said.
Margulies said Burton’s mother was a crack addict and a prostitute who beat Burton and allowed him to watch her sleep with the men she brought home. He said Burton’s father made a prostitute perform oral sex on Burton when he was 10 years old.
In addition, he said Burton was born addicted to crack and has brain damage. He said Burton reads, writes and does math below third-grade levels.
Margulies also commented on the spontaneity of the crimes, saying it lacked the forethought associated with the most serious offenders and asked the judge for 280 months.
After the sentencing, Margulies read from a letter Burton wrote to Judge Andrew Danielson and the women.
In it, he criticized Danielson, saying the judge had allowed things to go on that shouldn’t have in the case. He did not specify further, but said he felt taken advantage of because of his lack of education.
He apologized for his part in the burglary, but insisted he was not the rapist and that he would appeal.
Burton, who did not react to the judge’s ruling, did not speak at any point during the sentencing.
The judge responded with his own statement, in which he denounced Burton for bragging about his crimes and said Burton’s childhood is no excuse for what he did.
“I can attest to the fact that your actions are at least as despicable as any I have seen,” Danielson said. “I am satisfied this is an appropriate sentence in this case.”