Man faces sentencing for killing former schoolmate

RIVERSIDE – An ex-con who gunned down a longtime acquaintance when the victim tried to collect a debt from him is expected to be sentenced today to 75 years to life in prison.

A Riverside jury last month convicted Leroy Duayne Burton of first- degree murder and a sentence-enhancing weapon allegation in the May 2013 killing of 35-year-old Jabari Jones. Burton, 36, also a prior felony strike on his record.

The defendant testified that he shot Jones in self-defense. According to Burton, Jones pulled a handgun on him during a confrontation in the parking lot of the Pepper Tree Apartments at 7911 Arlington Ave.

The defendant said he feared for his life and yanked the pistol away, leading to a struggle between the two men during which the gun discharged several times.

According to the prosecution, Jones had loaned Burton several hundred dollars days before the deadly encounter. The men went to high school together in Rubidoux and had remained in contact.

Prosecutors allege that on the afternoon of May 31, Jones spotted Burton outside the apartment complex and confronted him about the unpaid debt. An argument ensued, and Burton pulled a .22 caliber pistol, firing twice, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Dr. Mark Fajardo, a pathologist, testified that Jones was shot in the head and torso from less than two feet away. The medical examiner said that a shot under the left armpit penetrated Jones’s heart, killing him on the spot.

Burton fled on foot and was gone by the time patrol units reached the location, according to investigators.

Detectives identified the defendant within hours and arrested him without incident on La Sierra Street.

According to court documents, Burton has a string of prior felony convictions, including for burglary, check fraud and spousal abuse. He served several years in prison for the offenses.

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