BANGOR — In a dramatic moment Tuesday in Robert Burton’s murder trial in the death of Stephanie Gebo at her Parkman home, which the couple had shared for more than two years, Justice Robert Mullen allowed the defense, in agreement with the prosecution, to bring into the courtroom a replica box spring and mattress to recreate the shooting that occurred in June 2015.

“I think it’s the best way to show what happened,” defense attorney Hunter Tzovarras said.

Using the improvised bed, a queen-size bed similar to the one the couple shared until their breakup on May 30, 2015, and a replica gun, Robert Burton acted out the sequence of events he narrated, saying, “She told me she was going to kill me and get away with it.”

With the bed set up in front of the judge and jury with a bright red sheet on it like the one on the bed in Parkman, Burton testified that on the night of June 4 he went to Gebo’s house and told her his earlier fantasy about him binding her with duct tape until he was told the truth about her cheating on him.

Gebo died hours later from three gunshots to the back.

The defendant acted out both his and Gebo’s parts, saying Gebo reached under her pillow, lifted it and fired a gun through the pillow, striking him.


“I heard a click — a very distinct loud ‘punk’ — and could see pieces of the pillow floating down,” Burton recalled under direct examination from his other court appointed lawyer, Zachary Brandmeir.

Burton said he fell back, unable to use one side of his body. He said Gebo then jammed the pistol under his chin so hard he “saw stars.” She pulled the trigger and nothing happened, he said. The gun had misfired.

He said Gebo got up from the bed, pointing the gun at him again as he tried to push the gun away with his left hand, with his finger and Gebo’s finger meeting on the trigger as they struggled. Burton said the gun went up, under her back, and the gun fired into Gebo’s back.

Gebo was shot, he said. The couple then struggled, and Gebo was shot a second time in the back and then later a third time after Burton attempted to clear the chamber of the gun with his finger still on the trigger while Gebo was down on the floor.

Burton said he did not shoot her intentionally, continuing his testimony from Monday in an effort to convince the jury of nine men and six women that he had acted in self defense.

Assistant Attorney General John Alsop said it didn’t happen that way at all.


Alsop cited a letter Burton penned to his first attorney saying Gebo was shot first on the right side, when she actually was shot on the left side of her back. Alsop sought to poke holes in Burton’s testimony, noting Gebo had told Burton she was scared of him after their breakup May 30.

Duct tape found on Gebo’s bloody arm and on her bed matched duct tape found on a roll in Burton’s truck, an earlier witness from the crime laboratory testified.

Alsop suggested that Burton had come to the house that night with a plan to tape her wrists and ankles to compel her to tell the truth about her sex life. He said he also tried to put duct tape over her mouth that night, causing a cut and a bruise on her lip.

Alsop said the shooting was not accidental, as Burton claims. He asked why he didn’t call 911 immediately after the shooting and why he didn’t look to see if Gebo’s children were OK upstairs.

Instead, Alsop said, “you ran away and stayed out in the woods for 68 days.”

The defense argues that the couple had consensual sex just days before the fatal shooting and that Burton had been set up to be shot by Gebo as he entered her home on June 4, 2015, or early June 5. The prosecution team is attempting to paint a picture of Burton as an obsessive, jealous man who suspected his former girlfriend had been cheating on him when he murdered her.


Both the defense and the prosecution have rested, and the case could go to the jury Wednesday morning after closing arguments.

The trial, after seven full days at the Penobscot Judicial Center, appeared to descend into dueling self-defense situations, with Gebo scared of Burton and Burton saying he was lured to Gebo’s bedroom to be killed.

On Monday, Burton told Justice Robert Mullen that he was willing to take the stand and waived his rights to remain silent.

He stated he wrote love notes to Stephanie Gebo. He said that three days after the couple broke up on May 30, 2015, after being together for more than two years, Gebo, then 37, allowed him into her home and into her bed.

The next night — June 4, 2015 — Burton was shot once in the upper torso with Gebo’s 9 mm pistol, police have said. He then turned the gun on her and killed her — the final shot coming while the woman was already down on the floor, according to the prosecution.

He bled profusely before fleeing and was on the run for 68 days in rural Piscataquis County before turning himself in at the jail in Dover-Foxcroft. The gun was never found, despite Burton taking police to the place he said he had left it hidden in a plastic bag.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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