See the update at the end of this post on today's hearing being delayed.
ORIGINAL POST, AUG. 29, 7:05 A.M.: With temperatures in the triple-digits, Blythe is not the place anyone wants to be right now.
But Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Chrisopoulos is scheduled to make the trip today to see that a 64-year-old who beat the stuffing out of two roommates with a baseball bat seven years ago remains in state prison.
The morning of Oct. 10, 2005, John Joseph Burke whacked the two men with a wooden baseball bat and left them bleeding on the floor of their residence.
Because he thought one of the roomies broke into his room and damaged his guitar.
But Burke obviously understood that was an overreaction when he dialed 9-1-1 to report that his roommates had just beaten each other senseless with a bat. The blood on the walls, couch, floor, victims and bat suggested otherwise, and under questioning by Garden Grove Police investigators Burke copped to what actually happened. Officers determined he was not drunk or on drugs at the time.
One roommate suffered a laceration to his head and was hospitalized
for a day, but the other sustained a laceration to his head and
bruising on his chest, abdomen and arm, according to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA), which notes that man underwent multiple
surgeries including the removal of part of his skull and some bruised
brain tissue, and a tracheostomy. He continues to have short-term
memory loss, blurriness in one eye, dizziness, and resides in an
assisted living facility as a result of his injuries, the OCDA adds.
Burke pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity to the
charges against him, but the jury determined that he was sane at the time of the
crime. He was found guilty of one felony count of aggravated mayhem and sentenced to 7 years to life in state prison. The conviction was affirmed on appeal.
So we have now arrived at the date of his parole hearing, at his new residence, Ironwood State Prison in Blythe. Deputy District Attorney Holly
Woesner prosecuted the original case, but it is Chrisopoulos making the drive–unless he can convince someone, anyone to let him just Skype it from his air-conditioned office.
Wherever Chrisopoulos is, he'll argue Burke has failed to show remorse for his crime or accept
responsibility for the attack.
“Burke maintains that he is the true
victim because his roommates drove him to assault them and he believes
his incarceration is therefore unfair,” reads the OCDA statement. “The inmate refuses to participate
in self-help or other prison programming to prepare himself for
Due to that and his violent crime, “the
OCDA believes Burke poses a continued threat to the community and should
not be released.”
UPDATE, AUG. 29, 2:26 P.M.: According to an OCDA statement this afternoon, the Board of Parole Hearings, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation postponed today's parole hearing “to allow for a new psychological evaluation of the inmate.”
The date and time for a new hearing are to be determined, the OCDA adds.
Hope Chrisopoulos found out before he hit the road.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.