Judge Orders Teen to be Tried as Adult in Killing at Baptist School

St. Louis Post-Dispatch/May 22, 1996
By Tim O'Neil

A 15-year-old boy from Los Angeles was ordered Tuesday to face murder charges as an adult in the killing of a fellow student at a Baptist boarding school for troubled youths two months ago.

Circuit Judge William Camm Seay issued the order against Joseph S. Burris after a five-hour hearing to decide whether Burris should stay in the state juvenile system or be moved up to criminal court.

Already facing a first-degree murder charge is Anthony G. Rutherford, 18, of Siloam Springs, Ark., who is Burris' alleged accomplice in the killing of William A. Futrelle II, 16, of Boca Raton, Fla., on March 25. All three were students at the Mountain Park Baptist Church and Boarding Academy, where the killing took place.

Burris' mother, Patrice Burris-Costales, was outside the courtroom when the judge issued his order. She rushed inside, embraced her still-seated son and wept. He wept, too.

Burris' attorneys sought to show that he suffered deep depression at the time of the killing. Burris-Costales testified that her son's father had died of a sudden heart attack in February 1993 and that the man she later married died of cancer last September.

Burris-Costales said her son was kicked out of a Christian school for possession of marijuana and three times ran away from home. She said she decided to take her son to Mountain Park shortly before the death of her second husband, Ken Costales.

"From the minute Ken got sick, Joe's reaction was 'I cannot lose another dad,' and from that point on, I saw a decline," Burris-Costales testified.

One of the two defense attorneys was James E. Bowles, who returned to his native Wayne County last year after 26 years of practice in Hillsboro. Testifying for Burris was Dr. Edwin Wolf gram, a psychiatrist and faculty member at the Washington University School of Medicine.

Wolfgram said he interviewed Burris for three hours on May 9. He said he believed Burris suffered from severe depression because of the two deaths and did not have the mental ability to understand what he was doing when Futrelle was killed.

Robert Ramshur, a lawyer from nearby Piedmont, Mo., who represented the circuit's juvenile office, urged Seay to approve felony charges because there is no question that the crime was committed.

Also at the hearing, Wayne County Sheriff Nathan Hall had a written statement that Burris had given investigators about eight hours after the killing. In it, Burris admits to trying to strangle Futrelle, slashing his throat three times with a pocket knife, and hitting him in the head with a brick and heavy stick.

"I took (the knife), and I cut his throat," Hale read from Burris' statement. "... When I cut his throat and stood up. Will made noises, so I reached down and cut his throat open wider. I kicked him twice, and Tony kicked him."

Tony is the nickname of Rutherford, who awaits trial in the jail on the top floor of the Wayne County Courthouse. Hale said he would transport Burris to a different county to keep the two separated.

In a preliminary hearing on the case against Rutherford on April 30, Hale read Rutherford's statement made on the night of the killing. Rutherford said that he and Burris had wanted to take over the school, "have their way" with the girl students there and form a cult similar to David Koresh's in Waco, Texas.

A third suspect, who also is 15, already has been ordered kept in the Missouri juvenile system on a lesser charge.

Mountain Park Boarding School lies on 165 secluded acres near the St. Francis River about 110 miles south of St. Louis.

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