The murder trial of an Abbot man charged with killing his former girlfriend in 2015 and taking police on one of the longest manhunts in state history has been postponed as he seeks a new lawyer to represent him, according to the prosecutor.

Jury selection in the murder trial of Robert Burton had been scheduled for Monday in the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor, but the case has been put on hold. No new trial date has been scheduled, according to a clerk at the court; but Jeffrey Toothaker, Burton’s lawyer until recently, said the move probably will delay the trial as much as a year.

Burton, 39, pleaded not guilty in December to a murder charge in the shooting death of Stephanie Ginn Gebo in Parkman. He was indicted by a Piscataquis County grand jury in October.

Assistant Attorney General John Alsop, who is prosecuting the case, said Tuesday that Burton filed a handwritten motion, received in the Penobscot court a week ago, complaining about his attorney and seeking appointment of a new lawyer.

Superior Court Justice Robert Mullen discussed the motion with Burton and Toothaker and granted the motion for new counsel. Toothaker said Tuesday the delay will allow Burton to “get new counsel to take a look at his matter,” but he didn’t comment further.

Alsop said his office was not involved in the discussion.


Burton also requested that the change of venue from Piscataquis to Penobscot County be rescinded and the judge either denied or took no action on that request, Alsop said.

The trial was moved to Penobscot County because of concerns Toothaker had about pre-trial publicity.

Burton also entered a plea of not guilty to a charge of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. Burton is a convicted felon and is not allowed to have a gun.

Toothaker said in July that Burton has not changed his plea and that the case will proceed to trial.

Burton turned himself in Aug. 11, 2015, after leading police on a manhunt through Piscataquis and Somerset counties.

After Burton turned himself in, Toothaker said he did it because “thought he was going to get shot” by police and didn’t like being pestered by mosquitoes and black flies, but he also stressed he didn’t break into any camps while he was on the run.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: