Trial for Teen Opens in Killing of 16-year-old at Youth Home

His Attorney Says He's Prepared Defense Based on Mental Illness

St. Louis Post-Dispatch/September 30, 1997

A teen-ager from California faces life in prison without parole if he's found guilty of killing a classmate at a Baptist boarding school for troubled youths in southeast Missouri.

Jury selection was completed Monday afternoon in the first-degree murder trial of Joseph Stanley Burris, 16, of Granada Hills, Calif.

Burris is the second teen to stand trial in the death of William A. Futrelle II, 16, of Boca Raton, Fla.

Anthony Gene Rutherford, 19, of Siloam Springs, Ark., was convicted in May and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Burris, who was 15 at the time of the killing, was certified to stand trial as an adult.

Missouri law prohibits prosecutors from seeking the death penalty for those who are younger than 16 at the time of the offense.

Futrelle was attacked on March 25, 1996, at the Mountain Park Baptist Church and Boarding Academy near Patterson, about 110 miles south of St. Louis. His throat was slashed with a pocketknife, and he was beaten about the head, apparently to keep him from disclosing a bizarre plot to take over the school, authorities said.

Burris pleaded innocent and innocent by mental disease or defect.

"The primary emphasis will be on the not guilty by mental disease or defect," said Burris' lawyer, James Bowles of Piedmont, Mo.

The trial, which is being held in Pulaski County on a change of venue from Wayne County, is expected to continue through Friday.

Meanwhile, a third suspect, also from California, has been committed to the Missouri Division of Youth Services until age 18 for concealing a crime, a felony.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.