ST. LOUIS - A onetime suburban police officer with a previous conviction for kidnapping and rape was found guilty by a jury in St. Louis on Thursday of second-degree murder.
Eugene P. Burrell, 44, claimed self-defense in the shooting of Justin Young, 29, early in the morning of Aug. 26, 2010, in the 4000 block of Maffitt Avenue.
Witnesses said Burrell waited in his home's front doorway for Young and shot him immediately after Young threw a brick through the front window. The men had been in a dispute involving the pay of Young's fiancée, Robyn Patrick, who worked for Burrell's food vending business.
Burrell claimed he wrestled a gun out of Young's hand and fired. "I was scared, so I shot him," he testified.
Jurors also found Burrell guilty of armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon for pointing the gun at Patrick and her mother and threatening to kill them.
Prosecutor Beth Orwick sought a first-degree murder conviction.
Burrell's attorney, Philip Eisenhauer, argued that his client was not the initial aggressor and that the paths of the bullets indicated a struggle.
Burrell pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation for a 1998 rape and kidnapping of a woman in north St. Louis County. At the time, he had just signed on to work as a reserve police officer in Velda City. For four years in the mid-1990s, he was a police officer for University City, Kinloch, Pine Lawn, Jennings and again for Velda City.
Burrell, who knew the kidnapping victim, abducted her from her home in Normandy, held a razor to her neck, pistol-whipped her and raped her.