Serial killer suspect Burkett to stand trial


Serial killer suspect Nathan Burkett will stand trial on three murder charges, a Las Vegas judge ruled Wednesday.

Justice of the Peace Eric Goodman ruled prosecutors presented enough evidence to send the case against him to a jury. Burkett, 63, will face three charges of murder and one count of sexual assault.

The district attorney's death penalty committee probably will review the case now that it has been bound over for trial in District Court.

The death penalty committee, whose meetings are not open to the public, looks at three factors when considering capital punishment: whether there are aggravating factors in the case, whether a jury would impose the death penalty as punishment and whether a conviction would stand up under appeal.

Burkett has twice been convicted of manslaughter in the slayings of two women, including his mother.

Las Vegas homicide detectives have linked Burkett to three Las Vegas cold-case killings: the death of 22-year-old Barbara Ann Cox on April 22, 1978; the death of 27-year-old Tina Gayle Mitchell on Feb. 20, 1994; and the death of a Los Angeles woman, Althea Williams, also in 1994.

Police have connected Burkett to Cox and Mitchell by DNA. Prosecutors argued the Williams slaying was similar to Mitchell's, which lead detectives to think they were committed by the same person.

Prosecutor Marc DiGiacomo argued that all three women died by strangulation and were found close to Burkett's apartment. Burkett even "discovered" Cox's body, DiGiacomo said.

Special Public Defender David Schieck, who is representing Burkett, declined to comment.

Schieck argued against a trial for the sexual assault count because the statute of limitations had passed on the charge. Burkett did not testify.

Burkett, described by former neighbors as having an iron-tight grip, was convicted of killing two other people. Records show he served time in prison for manslaughter in Mississippi in the 1980s after his mother was found burned to death.

He was arrested by Las Vegas police on a murder charge in October 2003 in connection with the death of Valetter Jean Bousley, 41, whose body was found a year earlier.

Burkett was convicted of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter in Bousley's death and served six years in prison.

Burkett was extradited from Mississippi in August. He is being held at the Clark County Detention Center without bail.

An arraignment hearing was set for Dec. 26.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.

 

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