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 fifteen years later.

Robert Burton, 38, steps out of the Piscataquis County jail on his way to his initial court appearance in August 2015. Burton was convicted of the murder of Stephanie Gebo, 37, on Thursday at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor. Staff file photo by David Leaming

In that earlier narrative 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 these past two weeks in Bangor.

For that domestic violence infraction 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, some 35 miles north of Skowhegan. Gebo had been shot three times in the back.

Burton, 40, was found guilty of murder Oct. 5 and prosecutors said they will seek a life sentence.

Could Stephanie Gebo’s death have been prevented if Burton had had to wear ankle bracelets — electronic monitoring — during his probation that ended the day she was killed?

Gebo, 37, was not Burton’s previous victim so the “exclusion zone,” the area a violator is not permitted to enter, would not have included her home.

Nevertheless, Gebo’s father, Vance Ginn, said he wants the state to find a way to monitor domestic violence offenders wherever they go.

PROTECTION MUST BE SOUGHT

Officials in Somerset County in Aug. 2014 initiated the first electronic monitoring program in the state, approving the use of ankle bracelets — one-piece GPS monitoring devices for tracking the movement of people charged with domestic violence crimes.

Amy Bagley Lake and her two children, Monica, 12, and Coty, 13, were killed by her husband, Steven Lake, in June 2011. Her parents, Ralph and Linda Bagley, helped raise seed money for a system that tracks people charged with domestic abuse while they are out on bail. File photo

The adoption of the program was prompted by the shooting deaths of Amy Bagley Lake, 38, and her two children, Coty, 13, and Monica, 12, in June 2011. All three were shot with a 12-gauge shotgun by Amy’s husband, Steven Lake, 37, who turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.

Amy Lake had a protection order on her husband. Bail conditions prevented him from having contact with his wife and children. With a monitoring device, Lake could have been tracked when he approached his family’s home.

In Burton’s case, there was no call to police from Gebo and no protection order filed by Gebo against him. Gebo slept with a gun beside her and was prepared to use it, according to court testimony last week.

“If there’s not a previously ordered ‘no contact,’ like a protection order or bail conditions by the court, it would not have impacted that case,” said Michael Pike, the domestic violence investigator at the Somerset County district attorney’s office. “As far as keeping away from a previously unknown victim or someone unknown to law enforcement or the court, it probably would not have had an impact.”

Maeghan Maloney, district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties, was with Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster for a 5K walk-a-thon in Dexter held to raise public awareness of domestic violence after the Lake murders. The event was sponsored by Ralph and Linda Bagley of Harmony, Amy Bagley Lake’s parents. The event raised $14,000 for the electronic monitoring program. A race in 2012 raised another $18,000 for the state to look into electronic monitoring.

Maloney said her Somerset office was the first in the state with electronic monitoring because of the fundraising efforts by the Bagley family of Harmony to honor the memory of their daughter and grandchildren.

She said Kennebec County soon followed, as did other counties in Maine, including Sagadahoc and Cumberland counties.

Maloney said she has seen successes with post-conviction monitoring.

“I have cases where the court has ordered electronic monitoring as a condition of probation,” Maloney said.

One of the cases, she said, is that of Andrew Maderios, the former high school music teacher from Pittsfield who was sentenced to serve three years in prison and then to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet for two years for domestic violence assaults against his then-girlfriend.

Dale Lancaster, then chief deputy of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office and now sheriff, with a tracking device that can be used to monitor the location of people charged with domestic assault. Staff file photo by David Leaming

Maderios, then 29, was sentenced in Sept. 2015 to 15 years with all but three years suspended and six years of probation with the first two of those years to include electronic monitoring.

“I was concerned what he would do when he left prison,” Maloney said at sentencing. “With electronic monitoring, I don’t have that concern because we’re able to know where he is at all times.”

The judge in the Maderios case, Robert Mullen, presided over Burton’s jury trial.

“The judge can order it, which happened with the Maderios case, but the probation office has to do the electronic monitoring,” Maloney said.

Maloney said her office has electronic monitoring in both Somerset and Kennebec counties for pre-trial domestic violence defendants who meet certain criteria. Post-conviction monitoring is done by the Department of Probation and Parole.

PROPER CONDITIONS

Pike said the ankle bracelet program has been helpful, adding that any potential domestic violence offender would be a good candidate for electronic monitoring, but the proper conditions must be in place.

Pike said ankle bracelets are most effective in pre-conviction cases, where the alleged victim fears that the perpetrator might return.

“That seems to be the time when a victim is at the greatest risk, when they’re first reporting a domestic violence incident to police and are moving away from their abuser and making plans to find a new residence and get support,” he said. “Being able to monitor their movements pre-conviction and making sure that they stay away from their victims are two things I find helpful in my job.”

As for post conviction, there are complications, Pike said. A jail sentence leads to probation and the application of electronic monitoring devices would depend upon what the victim’s concerns and needs are.

Pike said the district attorney’s office can appeal to the judge in a domestic violence case for electronic monitoring as part of bail or post-conviction conditions for release on probation.

“We’ve actually had a couple of pretty significant cases over the past couple of years where electronic monitoring was ordered as part of the probation conditions,” Pike said. “I’m not sure, not being completely familiar with (Burton’s) background, if it would have been ordered in his case.”

In Burton’s case, a monitoring device while on probation might have helped his earlier victim, but might not have done Gebo any good.

AN EXPANDED SYSTEM?

Vance Ginn, father of Stephanie Gebo, said the court system did its job after the jury delivered its verdict, finding Robert Burton guilty on all counts at Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor on Thursday. He said he wants electronic monitoring for all domestic violence offenders in Maine. Ginn has an image of his daughter on his shirt. Staff file photo by David Leaming

Nevertheless, Vance Ginn, Gebo’s father, told reporters outside the Penobscot Judicial Center following Burton’s conviction last week that he wants to see an expanded ankle bracelet system in place in Maine, saying there must be a way to protect women like his daughter. He said he will launch an initiative the day Burton is sentenced. A date has not been set for sentencing.

“We’re going to try to have a news conference that day of sentencing to give more detail about the ankle bracelet program and how bad we need it in our state,” he said.

Gebo told friends she was afraid of Burton, but had not been threatened by him. She did not contact police at any time leading up to her death. Friends and co-workers implored Gebo to obtain a protection order against Burton after they broke up the weekend before her death, but she didn’t get one.

She slept with a gun under her pillow, which ultimately was used to kill her after she fired once on Burton as he hovered over her bed. He turned the gun on her, shooting her in the back three times.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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Twitter:@Doug_Harlow