Robert Burton was found guilty Thursday of murdering Stephanie Gebo inside her home in Parkman in 2015, a crime that triggered what authorities have said was the state’s longest and most costly manhunt.

Gebo, a 37-year-old mother of two who was shot to death in her bedroom, had feared her former boyfriend’s jealous rage and slept with a handgun nearby. She shot Burton when he broke in through her bedroom window that June, but he seized the gun and turned it on her, putting three bullets in her back.

Gebo had broken up with Burton the previous weekend and was killed the day after Burton’s probation ended for a domestic violence conviction that had sent him to prison for 10 years.

Gebo’s slaying haunted her father, Vance Ginn.

“The court system did its job today,” said a teary-eyed Ginn, who stood outside the Penobscot Judicial Center wearing a shirt bearing a photo of his daughter as other people hooted, hollered and honked horns in celebration. “Finally, justice has been done for my daughter, and finally I can have tears of joy instead of hurt.”

Burton, 40, fled after the shooting and avoided capture for more than two months before turning himself in to police.

He testified in his own defense during the nine-day trial, which concluded just before noon Thursday 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 that he acted in self-defense and didn’t intend to kill Gebo.

Burton sat silent when the verdict was returned, showing no emotion as all 12 jurors said “guilty” aloud. Burton later hugged his attorneys before being led away.

Gebo’s family and friends were advised not to express any outward signs of emotion in the courtroom, and they saved the hooting and hollering and horn-tooting for the street outside.

Stephen Gebo of Parkman, who was married to Stephanie and is the father of their children, Sidney, 15, and Connor, 12, said he was “overjoyed” with the verdict. Sidney attended the trial but declined to comment.

“I’m overjoyed with the fact that now my kids can rest and Stephanie’s family can rest,” Stephen Gebo said outside the courthouse. “I’m not going to say anything more. I’m going to leave it up to Connor and Sidney during sentencing.”


Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber said the state will seek a sentence of life imprisonment. A sentencing date has not been set.

Vance Ginn said he plans to hold a news conference on the day of sentencing. He wants to bring awareness to the need for an ankle bracelet program for domestic violence offenders in Maine, although it’s not clear whether Burton would have been required to wear a bracelet at the time of the killing.

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

Burton’s father, Roger Burton, and his wife, Sandra, sat behind the defendant’s table in support of their son every day of the trial. They declined to speak with reporters as they left the courthouse Thursday.

Defense attorney Hunter Tzovarras said the defense team and their client are disappointed with the verdict and plan to appeal.

“But as Mr. Burton said in the end,” Tzovarras said, “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.”

Ginn, however, rejected any assertions that Burton was, deep down, “a good boy.”

“No, he’s not a good boy. He was never a good boy, and now this proves just how bad his life has always been,” the victim’s father said.


In closing arguments Wednesday, prosecutors told the jury that Burton had malevolent intent when he climbed in through Gebo’s bedroom window armed with a knife and black duct tape to bind her until she “admits her wickedness” for allegedly cheating on him with other men.

Assistant Attorney General John Alsop said Burton’s frame of mind was like a “drawer of knives” when he shot and killed his former girlfriend in a jealous rage, that his anger was palpable.

Alsop pointed out that after Burton wrestled the gun from Gebo, he 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.”

Gebo had told friends and co-workers that she was afraid of Burton, and “I have a gun and I’m prepared to use it.”

The Maine State Police’s Major Crimes Unit investigated the case and canvassed the region in Penobscot and Somerset counties, looking for the wanted man.

He turned himself in to police 68 days later.

Burton testified on the stand that sometime during the first 30 days he was on the run, he briefly visited boyhood friend George Miles 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.”


During the trial, the prosecution portrayed Burton as an obsessive, jealous man who suspected his former girlfriend had been cheating on him.

But the defense tried to discredit the investigation and cast reasonable doubt on Burton’s guilt, saying that there were holes in the case and that police had rushed to judgment in charging Burton with murder before all the evidence was collected. They argued that if Burton had died that day, Gebo would have been on trial.

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

But 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.

Alsop reiterated that statement outside the courthouse after the verdict Thursday.

“Yes, it was pure fiction,” he told the media. “It didn’t match up with any of the evidence in the case, and it was, on its own terms, incredible.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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