BANGOR — Robert Burton was a man jealous to the point of obsession when he murdered his former girlfriend in Parkman in June 2015.

That was the picture painted by Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber Monday morning during opening statements in the first day of Burton’s murder trial at the Penobscot Judicial Center.

Burton’s defense attorney, Hunter Tzovarras, told jurors that his client was the one invited to Stephanie Gebo’s home just days after the couple broke up and he was ordered to leave, and it was Gebo who shot Burton first with her own handgun and a scuffle ensued and Gebo was shot to death.

Macomber advised the jury that Burton had no right to self defense if he had compelled her to shoot at him as he entered her home the night of June 4-5, 2015, resulting in her death.

“That man right there murdered her — shot her in the back three times,” Macomber told the jury at the Penobscot Judicial Center, pointing directly to Burton seated at the defendant’s table.

Tzovarras told the jury, “He loved Stephanie — he didn’t want to kill her.”

Tzovarras told the jury during his opening statements that Gebo and Burton might have even had sex a day or two before she died, despite the fact that Gebo told friends that she hadn’t seen or heard from Burton since they broke up the previous weekend.

Witness testimony swept back and forth Monday, with some friends saying Gebo was afraid and feared for her life, while others said she planned to get Burton before he got her and her children. None of those called to the stand Monday said they had ever seen Burton threaten or strike Gebo.

Jacob Ginn, Gebo’s brother, testified Monday that the relationship his sister had with Burton changed on Saturday, May 30, 2015, when Gebo reportedly told Burton their relationship was over. He said Stephanie changed the locks on the house and allegedly dropped Burton off at a local gravel pit where he was to kill himself, then drove to the family’s camp for the weekend.

On Monday, May 31, she started sleeping with a gun next to her, or as one witness said Monday, Gebo said, “The gun sleeps on his side of the bed.”

Female friends and former workmates testified before Justice Robert Mullen that they knew Gebo carried a gun and that she had said that “she was not going to let him get her first.”

Prosecutors presented copies of text messages exchanged between Gebo and former co-worker Elaine Watson, of Newport, which appeared to show Gebo was scared, but ready for whatever was to come.

“If he comes near me and my kids, he’s getting dead,” one of Gebo’s messages reportedly read. “If he comes to my house, he might get dead. I’m not taking any chances.”

Yet in other texts with longtime friend Duane Waterhouse Jr., of Sangerville, Gebo allegedly wrote the weekend before she died that “he’s going to kill me — I know he’s going to try. He’s crazy. He’s lost it.”

Another former coworker, Jodie Moholland, of Pittsfield, testified Monday that Gebo had had enough of Burton’s behavior at home and told him to leave.

“He flipped out, and she wasn’t having that around her kids,” she said, adding that Gebo feared Burton was stalking her.

Gebo showed her the gun she carried, a small handgun, allegedly saying, “If he comes near me, I have to protect myself and my children.”

Testimony Monday included Gebo’s daughter Sidney, now 15, who found her mother that morning lying face down in a pool of blood. She testified that she never really got along with Burton and that the relationship between Burton and her mother was “very tense, a lot of fighting.”

She said she shut off the alarm on her mother’s cell phone at 6:15 or 6:30 the morning of June 5, and then said, “I saw my mom lying face down in her room, saw a lot of blood and knew that wasn’t good.” Then she called 911.

She said she never heard any gunshots.

Burton, 40, took authorities on the longest manhunt in state history in June 2015.

He is charged with murder in the shooting death of Gebo, then 37, in the Parkman home they once shared in Piscataquis County. A jury of nine men and six women was selected Friday for the trial.

Gebo reportedly lived in fear of Burton and slept with a gun at her side, according to court affidavits. Her body was discovered by her 13-year-old daughter.

Burton was spotted several times during the summer of 2015. A home monitoring camera caught him running through a Guilford camp around noon on July 6. Another person spotted Burton climbing into a canoe and rowing across a lake.

Burton walked into the Piscataquis County Jail in Dover-Foxcroft on Aug. 11, 2015, and surrendered peacefully.

Gebo was last seen alive when she tucked her 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son into bed around 8:30 p.m. the night of June 4, 2015, according to police affidavits.

Gebo, a single mother of two, was shot to death with a pistol, according to police. She had broken up with Burton the previous weekend. Gebo was killed the day after Burton’s probation for a domestic violence conviction that sent him to prison for 10 years ended.

According to the affidavit, Detective Micah Perkins found four shell casings from a 9 mm handgun and an open window in the bedroom where Gebo’s body was found. Medical Examiner Margaret Greenwald, who conducted the autopsy on Gebo on June 7, 2015, found multiple gunshot wounds to the lungs, spinal area and trachea and determined the death was a homicide.

A gun shop owner near the Abbott/Guilford town line sold Gebo a 9 mm handgun about three years earlier, police said. On June 4, Robert Burton told his father that Gebo had bought “either a Glock or Colt 9 mm handgun,” according to the affidavit.

Piscataquis County Sheriff John Goggin told WVII-TV in July of that year that Burton was wounded by Stephanie Gebo before he turned the gun on her.

“As he was climbing through the window that night, his would-be victim had a handgun and she shot at him,” Goggin said in the interview with the Bangor TV station. “He wasn’t armed at that time. She wounded him slightly, they got in a tussle over the gun and he just lost it. He got the gun away from her and he shot her and he killed her.”

The gun was never found.

Burton has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.

The trial will resume at 9 a.m. at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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