State prosecutors will seek a sentence of life in prison Friday for Robert Burton, the Abbot man convicted of murder in October in the shooting death of his former girlfriend Stephanie Gebo in June 2015 in her home in Parkman, where they had lived as a couple for more than two years.

“As previously stated, we will be asking for imposition of a life sentence, based on the facts of the case and the defendant’s criminal record,” Assistant Attorney General John Alsop said in an email Tuesday to the Morning Sentinel.

Sentencing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Friday at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.

Gebo, a 37-year-old mother of two who was shot to death in her own bedroom, told friends and coworkers she was fearful of Burton’s jealous rage. “I have a gun and I’m prepared to use it,” she told them.

Sleeping with a gun for protection, Gebo shot Robert Burton when he broke through her bedroom window, ready with a knife and lengths of black duct tape to bind her until she “admits her wickedness” of cheating on him sexually with other men.

Burton, bleeding from the neck and shoulder, turned the gun on Gebo and shot her from behind, leaving her for dead with three bullet wounds in her back.

Gebo 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 fled after the shooting without seeking medical attention for himself and without calling 911 for Gebo. He turned himself in to police more than two months after what authorities said was the longest and most costly manhunt in state history.

Alsop said Burton’s frame of mind was like a “drawer of knives” when he shot and killed Gebo, that his anger was palpable.

Alsop pointed out that Burton wrestled the gun from Gebo and then had a choice. “Once he has the gun, he can leave; but he doesn’t. He kills her,” Alsop said. “He has no right to self-defense.”

Burton’s trial lasted nine days in late September and early October and featured Burton testifying on the witness stand. It concluded when the jury of five women and seven men finished deliberating for more than six hours over two days, ultimately rejecting the defendant’s arguments claiming self-defense and having no intention to kill.

Burton, who had a felony conviction for domestic violence and was on probation before moving in with Gebo, also faces a separate charge of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. He faces an additional five years in prison on that charge. Justice Robert Mullen, who presided over the nearly two-week murder trial, will rule on that charge at a later date.

Defense attorney Hunter Tzovarras said he and co-counsel Zachary Brandmeir will appeal the verdict. They said they hold to Burton’s innocence.

“But as Mr. Burton said in the end,” Tzovarras said outside the Bangor courtroom following the guilty verdict in October, “he feels he can hold his head up high because he knows he didn’t intend or try to kill Stephanie, and he got to tell the jury that and everyone heard his side of the story.”

Burton, 40, said that three days after the couple broke up on May 30, 2015, after being together for two and a half years, Gebo, then 37, allowed him into her home and into her bed.

The defense argued that the couple had consensual sex just days before the fatal shooting and was 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. Prosecutors said the lock on the window in Gebo’s bedroom appeared to have been rigged to allow entry from outside, though it appeared to be locked shut.

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 that night.

Taking the stand during his trial, Burton described a rough life, being a woodsman at age 17 and finally having a son of his own, who would later die of his wounds while on duty with the U.S. military in Afghanistan. He said he was injured in a wood mill accident and needed medications that he would later tell Gebo he was going to mix with alcohol to commit suicide.

Statements Burton alleged were from Gebo’s best friend, Erika Moulton, drove him to search Gebo’s phone card and find old text messages about sex with other men. Burton said Moulton told him that the love of his life was a “sex fiend” and a “whore,” which upset him gravely.

“I started over-thinking things,” he recalled under direct examination from Brandmeir. “It crushed me. I was devastated.”

Robert Burton’s history of domestic violence officially began in July 2000 when he reportedly used duct tape on the wrists and mouth of a girlfriend — the same thing he tried to do to Stephanie Gebo before he shot her to death 15 years later.

In the previous case, there were knives, suicide threats, camp burglaries and even the same hideout on Russell Mountain near his home in Abbot, all matching testimony in Burton’s murder trial.

He went to prison for 10 years in 2003. His last day of probation was June 4, 2015, the day before Gebo’s body was found by her 13-year-old daughter in a pool of blood at their home in Parkman, about 35 miles north of Skowhegan.

Stephanie Gebo’s father, Vance Ginn, has said he will hold a news conference after the sentencing Friday to launch an appeal for widespread use of ankle bracelets — electronic monitoring — in Maine.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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