Richmond Toll Plaza Shooting Defendant Says Victims Deserved To Be ‘Put To Death’
MARTINEZ (CBS SF) – Nathan Burris told a jury in Martinez Thursday that he has no regrets about murdering his ex-girlfriend and her friend at the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge toll plaza on Aug. 11, 2009, and said he still feels hatred for the victims.
Burris, 49, of Richmond, who is representing himself in his capital murder trial in Contra Costa County Superior Court, addressed jurors from the witness stand Thursday morning.
The defendant is eligible for the death penalty since he is charged with special-circumstance allegation of laying in wait to commit multiple murders.
He is accused of killing 51-year-old Deborah Ross, of Richmond, a bridge toll collector, and 58-year-old San Leandro resident Ersie “Chuck” Everette, a Golden Gate Transit bus driver, according to prosecutors.
While Burris has admitted to his guilt throughout court proceedings over the past three years and did so again Thursday morning, he has not pleaded guilty.
“I have from day one admitted I was the shooter,” Burris said.
Burris also testified that he is “not looking to blame any of my actions on drugs or a bad childhood” and is not claiming that the killings were committed in self-defense.
Instead, he said on the witness stand Thursday, his decision to follow and murder his former girlfriend and the man he believed she was dating was an act of “self-preservation.”
Burris, who was working as a long-haul truck driver, testified that he became suspicious of Ross’ relationship with Everette while he and Ross were still living together. He testified that at one point he was threatened by Everette, although he did not explain how.
On the evening of Aug. 11, 2009, Burris testified that he spotted Everette’s pickup truck parked in the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge toll plaza parking lot, where Ross worked.
After slashing the truck’s tires, he left the area and then returned after checking to ensure there were no California Highway Patrol officers near the parking lot, he testified.
“If you’re going on a mission like I’m going on, you want to be successful … you want to get it done,” Burris said.
The defendant testified that when he saw Everette in the truck, he ran up and shot him multiple times in the head and chest.
Next, he testified, he turned his attention to Ross, who was working her shift in one of the bridge’s tollbooths.
“My hate and passion and anger got the better of me,” he said. “There’s a thin line between love and hate, and that’s what it was for her.”
Burris said he shot Ross in the arm, then ran around the tollbooth and opened fire again.
He said Thursday morning that he felt no regret or remorse at the time of the slaying, and feels none today.
“I have more hate for her than anything,” he told the jury. “When you commit adultery, you ought to be put to death.”
Burris testified that he has asked the district attorney’s office for the death penalty for himself and is not bothered by the consequences, calling California’s death penalty process “laughable.”
“If this is my retirement, so be it — I’m living comfortable,” Burris said of his cell, which he referred to as his “apartment.”
The defendant apologized to the jury for what he described as the wasted time they have spent at his murder trial and blamed the district attorney’s office for dragging its feet.
Burris’ testimony is continuing Thursday afternoon.
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