Burbine Trial Likely To Start In May

Trial would likely last about a month and jury selection could begin on May 1. Burbine also set to undergo mental competency evaluations.

John Burbine (File Photo)
John Burbine (File Photo)
Accused serial sex offender John Burbine, who reportedly had a victim from Reading, is expected to go on trial in early May, with a pretrial conference now scheduled for April 17. 

Burbine appeared in Middlesex Superior Court late Monday morning, accompanied by his defense attorney Bill Barabino of Wakefield. At the hearing, a pretrial conference date of April 17th was set, with an eye on beginning jury selection and certain trial-related motions on May 1. Depending on how some ongoing matters are resolved, the trial could last for about a month. 

At Monday's hearing, a superior court judge approved a defense motion for $7,500 to hire Dr. Keith Ablow, a nationally known psychiatrist, to assess Burbine. If Burbine is found to be mentally ill and incapable of appreciating the criminality of the allegations against him, Barabino explained that it would help make a case for committing the defendant to a locked psychiatric ward instead of prison, possibly for the rest of his life. The prosecution is also expected to have its own witness assess Burbine's mental competency. 

Burbine, a former Wakefield resident, is charged with about 100 counts of child sexual abuse, following his arrest in late 2012. He pleaded not guilty to the charges back in December. Along with numerous accusations from throughout Middlesex County, Burbine was also charged last year with additional sex abuse crimes in Essex County

On Monday, Barabino also told local media at the courthouse that during the trial, he expects to call the arresting officer from Burbine's arrest back in 1989, where he was listed as a level 1 sex offender who went on to escape detection as a risk to children. Burbine's wife, Marian, is facing separate charges in connection with the case for running the illegal daycare business where much of the abuse is alleged to have taken place. 

Along with the officer from the 1989 arrest, the defense would also have Dr. Ablow and a computer expert testify, as well as several other unspecified individuals with knowledge of the Burbine case. The defense would not expect to call Dr. Ablow if Burbine is found mentally competent, noted Barabino. 

Burbine himself did not speak during his court appearance. Barabino indicated that he has been on medication during his time in prison, and  the defendant seemed to have lost some weight and had mostly white hair. 


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