Prosecutors Refile Charges In Murder Case

Sunday, April 22nd 2007, 2:04 pm
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Cleveland County prosecutors have refiled charges against a man accused of killing a Texas construction supervisor in a motel parking lot.

Prosecutors tried to get District Judge Tom Lucas to toss first-degree murder and related counts against Michael Burton, 20, but Lucas denied the motion. Burton is set to go on trial on Monday in the death of Martin Hughes.

Assistant District Attorney Rick Sitzman orally dismissed the charges himself, and refiled a first-degree murder count; conspiracy to commit a felony (larceny of an automobile); unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and conspiracy to commit a felony (robbery with firearms) against Burton.

The first-degree murder charge has a ``lesser included charge'' that would allow a jury to find that Burton murdered Hughes in the commission of a felony, while robbing him for his truck. Prosecutors would be required to prove malice aforethought with the first-degree murder charge, but not with the lesser included charge.

Hughes, 47, was in Norman to supervise a swimming pool construction project and had checked into the Guest Inn on west Main Street near Interstate 35, when he was shot in the neck May 30.

According to an affidavit filed Friday, prosecutors contend Burton and Alexander Hixson, 19, killed Hughes for his truck. The affidavit states Hixson, after his arrest, told police interviewers that the pickup was running and unattended, but that Hughes sat down in the pickup as they approached the vehicle.

Hixson told police he heard a gunshot and saw Burton remove the wounded victim from the driver's seat, according to the affidavit.

Hixson recently pleaded guilty to an amended charge of accessory to murder and other related charges, and was ordered to serve 25 years in prison. As part of a plea agreement, he is expected to testify against Burton, prosecutors said.

With the refiling of charges, Burton probably will not go on trial until September or afterward, according to court officials.