Shooter, prosecutor make final arguments in death penalty sentencing trial

Whether Nathan Burris, who shot and killed Deborah Ann Ross and Ersie Everette Jr. at the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge toll plaza in 2009, will get the death penalty or life in prison is now in the hands of a jury.

The same jury last week convicted Burris of two counts of first degree murder, with the special circumstance of lying in wait, making him eligible for Death Row.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Harold Jewett delivered a closing statement for the prosecution Thursday, telling jurors that they should give Burris the death penalty because of the impact of his actions and the abhorrent nature of his crimes.

Burris, as his own representative, went next and spent a long time sitting on the witness stand while delivering his closing statement to the jury. He told them he didn’t care if he got the death penalty or not and repeated his jeers at California’s death penalty system.

“The death penalty will work if they use it,” Burris said, chuckling. “If I was in Texas now, I’d be terrified. Death penalty means nothing to me, but time to hang out and do whatever I’m going to do.”

Family members of the victims said that they don’t think Burris is really that flippant about the death penalty. They said they think his long testimony Thursday and his defensive tactics during this penalty trial have shown that he’s nervous and trying to draw out the process for as long as possible.

“He said it’s ‘the end’,” said Danny Everette, one of the victim’s brothers. “He finally realized, it is the end for him.”

Burris also used his closing speech to talk about past crimes, saying he’d stolen cars and beat a man who was dating his sister because the man had hit her. He said he hit him from behind with a heavy object.

“Yes, it was another sneak attack,” Burris said, comparing how he hit that man with how he killed Deborah Ross and Ersie Everette.

“On behalf of myself,” Burris said in closing, “I apologize for wasting your time.”

From the beginning Burris has called the trial a waste of time because he maintained his guilt throughout — despite entering a plea of not guilty and not taking the opportunity to change his plea during the guilt phase of the trial, because he said he wanted to keep all of his appeals.

The jury was excused to deliberate just after 2 p.m.

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