BANGOR — Robert Burton was sentenced Friday to serve 55 years in prison for the murder of his former girlfriend, Stephanie Gebo, in June 2015 in a house they once shared in Parkman, a small town in Piscataquis County, some 20 miles north of Skowhegan.

Burton sat motionless, staring directly ahead inside the Penobscot Judicial Center as Justice Robert Mullen imposed the sentence at about 10 a.m. Mullen said he was tempted to impose the life sentence the state had asked for, but considered the aggravating and the mitigating factors in the case, setting the maximum sentence at 55 years.

With prison “good time,” Burton will be in his 80s when he is eligible to be released.

Stephanie Gebo’s father, Vance Ginn, 66, said that he was satisfied with the sentence, noting that Burton, who is 40, might never get out of prison alive.

“Of course, we would have much rather heard the word ‘life,’ but by the way it was explained to us, this is kind of preventative medicine because a life sentence is a lot easier to get overturned … so we don’t have to face an appeal down the road,” Ginn told reporters outside of the courthouse. “The attorneys did the math and the earliest he can be released, doing nothing wrong in jail, he’ll be 86 years old. This is life for him that will stand.”

Burton was convicted of murder by a jury in October in the shooting death of his former girlfriend, Stephanie Gebo, in June 2015 in her home where they had lived as a couple with Gebo’s two children for more than two years.


Gebo, sleeping with a gun under her pillow because she feared what her jealous ex-boyfriend might do, shot Burton after he climbed through her bedroom window, armed with a knife and black duct tape. Burton had planned to bind her until she “admits her wickedness” of cheating on him 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 was killed the day after Burton’s probation had ended on a domestic violence conviction that sent him to prison for 10 years. Burton fled after the shooting without seeking medical attention for himself and without calling 911 for Gebo. He turned himself in to police 68 days after what authorities said was the longest and most costly manhunt in state history.

Authorities think he had been living in the woods before he gave himself up at the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department, saying he was afraid he was going to be shot.

Friday’s proceedings started with victim impact statements spoken to the court by friends, former coworkers and family members.

Caleb Ball, a cousin who spent much of his early life with Stephanie Gebo, spoke amid sobs, saying that most nights he wakes up with nightmares about Stephanie. He said he goes to counseling, has panic attacks and drinks until he passes out, only to wake to another nightmare. He said he remembers her laugh but is scared he won’t remember it someday.


Gebo’s mother, Christine Knapp, said her family lived for 68 days while Burton was on the run looking over their shoulders, not knowing where Burton was. She told the judge her daughter’s murder changed the family forever and asked for a life sentence.

Sidney Gebo, Stephanie’s daughter, who at age 13 came downstairs the morning of June 5, 2015, and found her mother lying face down in a pool of her own blood, was next to speak Friday morning, but she wouldn’t say Burton’s name aloud in court. She said when her mother finally broke up with Burton, their little family was happy again after a toxic couple of years with Burton living in their home.

She said she would be comforted with a sentence of life in prison.

According to a court affidavit, Maine State Police 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.

Sidney saw her mother’s body and got her 10-year-old brother out of bed, then called 911. As she was calling, she saw a camouflage backpack and jacket outside that she recognized as Burton’s. Inside the backpack, police said they later found a knife, duct tape and medication in bottles prescribed for Burton. Police said they found Burton’s cellphone in the jacket.

Burton’s trial lasted nine days in late September and early October and featured Burton testifying on the witness stand. The trial 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 himself stood Friday morning to emotionally speak his peace before being sentenced. He said he was “sincerely sorry” for the way the two children had to find their mother.

“I would trade places with her if I could,” he said of Gebo, who, during the trial, he said he had loved.

Assistant Attorney General John Alsop, one of two prosecuting attorneys in the case, said they were disappointed that Justice Mullen did not give them the life sentence they had asked for. He said Burton was not remorseful and previously had said that Burton’s testimony during the trial was “pure fiction.”

Defense Attorney Hunter Tzovarros had asked for a sentence somewhere in the range of 35 years.

“We are happy that he got less time than the life sentence that the state was asking for,” he said. “The focus will be on appealing the case now.”

Burton, who had a felony conviction for domestic violence and was on probation before moving in with Gebo, also faced a separate charge of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. He faced an additional five years in prison on that charge. Justice Mullen, who presided over the nearly two-week murder trial, sentenced Burton on Friday to serve four years on the firearm charge, to run at the same time as his sentence for murder.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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