BANGOR — Defense attorneys for Robert Burton on Friday suggested that the Maine State Police might have rushed to judgment in charging Burton with murder just three days after Stephanie Gebo was found shot to death on June 5, 2015, in her Parkman home.

Burton’s defense team of Zachary Brandmeir and Hunter Tzovarras argued that Burton acted in self-defense after Gebo shot him with a handgun she had kept within reach in her bedroom. The prosecution team of Assistant Attorneys General Donald Macomber and John Alsop are painting a picture of Burton as an obsessive, jealous man who suspected his former girlfriend had been cheating on him when he murdered her.

On Friday, Brandmeir, as co-council Tzovarras has done all week, sought to discredit the police investigation and cast reasonable doubt on Burton’s guilt for the jury.

Brandmeir said to Detective Jennifer Fiske at the Penobscot Judicial Center that the murder charge was brought without all the evidence collected over the past two and a half years.

Some text messages that had been deleted from Gebo’s phone were not included in copies used as evidence by the state, he said. Brandmeir noted later that neither the state nor the defense team have copies of the text messages between Gebo and her best friend, Erika Moulton, because they had been deleted from Gebo’s phone and because US Cellular, the service provider, doesn’t keep records of the messages. The company keeps only the date and time of the message and the phone number itself.

Brandmeir even questioned how long Fiske, who had been the lead investigator in the Gebo case, had been with the state police.


Nineteen years, she replied.

Moulton, who had testified Tuesday, was called back to court Friday after she was told to retrieve the phone she had in 2015, when she texted with Gebo sometimes more than 100 times a day. She said the messages still would be on her old phone, and the defense thought they might be helpful in determining what was said between the two women concerning Burton and the breakup with Gebo on May 30, 2015.

“I couldn’t find it,” Moulton told Tzovarras.

“Did you look for it?” Tzovarras countered.

“I spent two days looking for this phone,” she answered.

The state rested its case just after 2:30 p.m. Friday.


On Thursday, Tzovarras spent considerable time on academic medical and scientific details concerning blood, semen and DNA, apparently trying to convince the jury of nine men and six women that Burton did not go to the house to kill Gebo. He argued that the scientific evidence showed Burton and Gebo had had consensual sex in the days leading up to the shooting.

Brandi Caron, a forensic chemist with the state crime laboratory, testified about the DNA findings from cervical and vaginal swabs, noting that sperm cells could be detected days after intercourse. The DNA profiles that match Burton’s samples also were found on a knife handle at Gebo’s house, where the shooting took place, and in blood on Burton’s shirt and in his truck.

The defense argues that the couple had consensual sex just days before the fatal shooting and is trying to convince the jury that Burton had been set up to be shot by Gebo as he entered her home on June 4, 2015, or early June 5. Police have said Burton, 40, was shot with Gebo’s 9 mm handgun through the upper torso before he turned the gun on her, shooting her three times and killing her.

On Friday, Robert Burns, a firearms specialist with the state crime laboratory in Augusta, testified that all four of the spent 9 mm shell casings were fired from the same gun — the one used to shoot Burton in the upper torso and the one used to shoot Gebo three times in the back.

Burns testified that the three recovered bullets and fragments from a fourth also came from the same gun, the one Gebo kept near her when she slept.

Macomber has noted in open court that a self-defense claim wouldn’t work if Burton had compelled Gebo to protect herself by shooting him. She had told friends and coworkers that she was afraid of Burton, but that he never had threatened her or her two children.


Tzovarras insisted that when Burton entered Gebo’s bedroom through a window, Gebo lifted a bed pillow and shot him through the pillow. The bullet ricocheted into the ceiling, where police found it lodged between the first and second floor of the house.

The pillow, with bullet holes and burnt powder, was produced as evidence.

Burton’s fingerprints were found on an exterior window at Gebo’s home, and duct tape found ripped on Gebo’s body matched duct tape found on Burton’s shirt and in his truck. Prosecutors have said the lock on the window in Gebo’s bedroom appears to have been rigged to allow entry from outside, though it appears to be locked shut.

Tzovarras noted that Burton had lived in the home, so it would not be unusual for his fingerprints to be all over the place.

Burton bled profusely before fleeing and was on the run for 68 days in rural Piscataquis County before turning himself in.

Terry Thurlow, a health worker who examined Burton at the Piscataquis County jail shortly after he turned himself in, testified Thursday that Burton had a gunshot wound that was a “flesh wound.”


Thurlow agreed that Burton appeared to be healthy and well nourished and ordered an x-ray of the area of the gunshot wound and found no bullet fragments and no broken bones.

“It was healing nicely,” Thurlow said of the entry wound near Burton’s shoulder. The back wound “wasn’t quite as healed,” he said.

Thursday’s testimony at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor follows the testimony of retired Chief Medical Examiner Margaret Greenwald, who on Wednesday said that one of the three shots that killed Stephanie Gebo in her home in June 2015 probably was fired while the mother of two was already down on the floor of her bedroom in Parkman, bleeding from two other shots.

Greenwald, who conducted the autopsy on Gebo’s remains on June 7, 2015, found gunshot wounds to the lungs, spinal area and trachea and determined the death was a homicide. She also found what might be considered a defensive wound on Gebo’s hand and other cuts and bruises.

Burton is charged with murder in the shooting death of Gebo, then 37, in the Parkman home they once shared. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

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 and was killed the day after Burton’s probation for a domestic violence conviction that had sent him to prison for 10 years ended.


Piscataquis County Sheriff John Goggin told WVII-TV in July 2015 that Burton had climbed in through the window. Goggin said 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 has not been found.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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