Man sentenced to life for killing cousin in Aureo Diaz in 2006
Published: March 22, 2013
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ST. CROIX - The process has taken more than six years, but on Wednesday, Randy Burke was sentenced to spend the rest of his natural life in prison for shooting and killing his cousin during an argument in 2006.
Burke, 33, was found guilty of gunning down 20-year-old Julius Cupid, in October 2006, as Cupid stood on the balcony of the Aureo Diaz housing community apartment he shared with his grandmother and another cousin.
Testimony at Burke's 2009 trial indicated that the two men had a heated argument in the apartment the evening of the murder, starting when Burke accused Cupid of taking some of his things. The argument escalated, until Burke stormed out.
One of Burke's cousins testified that she locked the apartment doors and watched Burke go toward a car parked on the roadway. A short time later, she heard "fearful screaming" outside, stepped out onto the balcony and saw Burke running back toward the apartment with something in his hand, she told the jury.
She went back inside, then heard Burke kicking on the front door and yelling threats, she said.
Then the banging stopped, and Cupid stepped out onto the balcony, she said.
She started toward the balcony to bring him back inside when she heard a gunshot and fled. A downstairs neighbor told police she saw Burke aim a gun at the balcony above her and fire.
The defense argued during Burke's trial that discrepancies existed between testimony and statements that witnesses made to police and that there were problems with evidence collection and with inadequate evidence processing in the case.
However, the jury convicted Burke of the murder charge.
Presiding V.I. Superior Court Judge Darryl Donohue Sr. had thrown out a weapon charge before the trial.
The sentencing was postponed for years as a result of appeals and other post-conviction motions that were filed on Burke's behalf.
At his sentencing, Burke addressed the court briefly, saying that he was sorry for his actions that brought him before the court.
He told the court that he and his cousin were very close and the incidents that led to their confrontation and him losing his cool and shooting Cupid were a huge misunderstanding that he has regretted from the moment it happened.
Donohue acknowledged Burke's remorse but spoke about the importance of keeping a level head despite the situation, adding that every action comes with a price and consequence.
The judge advised Burke that he had no discretion in handing down the sentence because his conviction of first-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence.
Donohue advised Burke, however, that he had the right to appeal his sentence if he chooses.
to do so.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.