After a two-week trial and one day of jury deliberations, Nathan Burris was found guilty Wednesday morning of two counts of first-degree murder in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez.
Burris murdered his ex-girlfriend Deborah Ann Ross, a tollbooth taker, and her friend Ersie “Chuckie” Everette Jr. in 2009 on the Richmond-San Rafael bridge.
The trial moved quickly, with Burris—who represented himself—repeatedly admitting in open court to the crimes, and not putting on much of a defense. He was the only witness for his side, taking the stand last week to testify in detail about how he committed the murders.
“I did it,” Burris said again and again throughout his testimony. The only emotion Burris showed during the trial was amusement. He chuckled while witnesses testified about the shootings and laughed when Senior Deputy District Attorney Harold Jewett, gave his closing statement and called Burris “evil” and “full of hate.”
“I have no feelings. No remorse. No regrets,” Burris told jurors after explaining how he murdered Ross and Everette. The few times he chose to cross examine a witness, Burris often got off track, using the opportunity to hurt the victims’ family more by cussing at them and gloating about how it only mattered that he was still alive—not that their loved ones are dead.
“You don’t even need five minutes,” Burris told the jury Tuesday, during his closing statement. “Come back with a verdict of guilty and let’s move on to the penalty phase,” he said.
Californians rejected proposition 34 to repeal the death penalty on Tuesday night. If passed, the proposition would have spared Burris from a death penalty sentence, but as he told the jury yesterday, he wasn’t worried about that either.
He called California’s death penalty system “a joke” and said that the state should look to Texas if they want to know how to make it work. “If the death penalty stays I’m going to use all of my appeals,” the 49-year-old Burris said. “I’m just going to hang out for 30-40 years.”
Family members of the victims Everette and Ross were in court today to hear the verdict. When the jury entered the room, the family—which spent a lot of time in the morning laughing and joking while they waited—got very quiet and very still.
Everette’s mother, Ola Hollans, who has sat through every day of the trial quietly in the aisle seat on the second row back leaned forward and turned her head slightly so her ear was pointed at the clerk as she read the verdict.
“I am very relieved,” Hollans said after court. “But,” she added, “I had no doubts.”
Everette’s three brothers all said they voted for Prop 34, and last week they told Jewett, that they would rather have Burris sentenced to life in prison.
The sentencing portion of the trial will begin tomorrow at 9AM, and the family members will finally have the chance to speak—to tell jurors about “Chuckie” and “Debbie,” and to directly address the man that murdered them both.