In 1992, Shaun Kareem Burney, a 19-year-old from Tustin placed a gun against the skull of Joseph Andrew Kondrath, a 23-year-old Anaheim college student. He robbed him of $1 and then put him in the trunk of a stolen car. A few minutes later, Burney opened the trunk and fired two shots into Kondrath’s head, killing him. During the trial, prosecutors argued that Kondrath was killed so he would not be a witness to the carjacking and robbery. In 1994, Burney was charged with murder and sentenced to death. His co-defendants were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Burney appealed his conviction and sentence and on Thursday of this week, the Supreme Court of California affirmed his conviction and his sentence.
The death penalty is a sentence given only to murders that possess special circumstances besides just a murder. This case involved a carjacking, a robbery and a murder. Those three crimes make it a special circumstances case that is eligible for capital punishment. Capital punishment is a controversial form of punishment. Proponents of the death penalty claim that it is useful for retribution, general deterrence and incapacitation. Opponents of the death penalty claim that it is too strict of a penalty and wrongfully accused people can be wrongfully executed. Regardless if you live in Irvine, Fullerton or Newport Beach, if you are charged with capital murder, you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney.