BANGOR — A jury has begun deliberating the case of Robert Burton, charged with murder in connection with the shooting death of his former girlfriend.

The case went into the hands of the jury at the Penobscot Judicial Center just before 1:30 p.m. Wednesday after the prosecution and defense presented their closing arguments. Justice Robert Mullen released three alternates from the jury, leaving five women and seven men to render a verdict.

Jurors deliberated for about four hours before asking to go home for the night and were scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Thursday.

Assistant attorney general John Alsop said in the state’s closing argument that Burton’s frame of mind was like a “drawer of knives” when she shot and killed his former girlfriend in a jealous rage.

Burton’s defense, meanwhile, argued that the defendant acted in self-defense after Stephanie Gebo shot him with a handgun she kept within reach in her bedroom. They say Burton is innocent and that if Burton had died that day, Gebo would have been on trial.

Gebo, a 37-year-old mother of two, was shot to death with a pistol by Burton in her Parkman home in June 2015, 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.

Burton then spent 68 days on the run before turning himself in, marking what authorities say was the longest manhunt in Maine history.

The prosecution team has been painting a picture of Burton as an obsessive, jealous man who suspected his former girlfriend had been cheating on him when he murdered her.

Alsop, delivering his closing argument, told jurors that Burton was a man obsessed with jealousy — his anger palatable.

“His thoughts were like a drawer of knives,” he said.

While Alsop told the jury that most of what Burton said on the stand was “pure fiction,” and that Gebo had every right to defend her home from criminal trespass, Tzovarras told the jury Wednesday: “Robert Burton is innocent.”

He said the gun went off accidentally. Robert Burton survived. Stephanie Gebo did not.

“Mr. Burton acted in self-defense in this case,” he told the jury, urging them to look at the law and come back with a not guilty verdict.

Tzovarras said that if Burton had wanted to kill Gebo, “don’t you think he would have shot her in the head? He’s not looking to kill Stephanie. He’s not trying to kill Stephanie.”

Tzovarras continued his assault on the state police murder investigation, telling the jury Wednesday that investigators never tried to get cellphone records from an old phone of Erika Moulton; never tested Burton’s 12 pages of rambling, obscene notes to see if Gebo had handled them; didn’t test the bed sheet; and didn’t investigate an alleged note from Burton in Gebo’s car.

“You should vote not guilty,” he told the jury.

Burton testified on Tuesday that sometime during the first 30 days he was on the run he visited his boyhood friend George Miles briefly in Abbot. He said Miles gave him an old tent and an old sleeping bag and told him he could take produce from his garden plot, but to not wipe it out. Burton told Miles that he wanted to turn himself in, but he was afraid he’d be shot by police.

Burton said he was in the woods and overheard state troopers say that the word from the top command was to shoot him on sight.

Eventually Burton walked into the Piscataquis County Jail in Dover-Foxcroft and told the guard: “I’m Robert Burton. I’m here to turn myself in.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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