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| Crime |

Jonathan Burns, Convicted of Murdering Gilbert Teen on Couple's "First Date," Eligible for Death Penalty

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A Mesa man convicted of the 2007 murder of 19-year-old Gilbert woman is eligible for a date with the needle, a jury decided yesterday.

It was determined that the crimes committed by Jonathan Burns -- who was found guilty last week for the murder of Jackie Hartman -- were cruel and were committed as part of a kidnapping, two factors that make him eligible for the death penalty.

Burns was found guilty of first-degree murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, and misconduct with a weapon for the January 28, 2007, murder of Hartman.

Hartman was last seen by her sister, Randi, about 2 a.m. the night she was murdered. Randi had dropped her off for what was supposed to be a first date with Burns. It turned out to be a date with death.

The sisters were supposed to meet up again at 4:45 a.m., but Jackie never showed.

Police spoke with Burns, who said he'd had sex with Hartman and then dropped her off at home. However, he couldn't explain where he was for about five hours on the morning of the murder.

Authorities were able to locate an area where Burns had used his cell phone the morning of the murder -- in the desert near Fountain Hills. Police searched the area and about a month after she was first reported missing, a search team found Hartman's body buried in the desert.

Another seemingly damning bit of evidence in the case was that Hartman's clothes were found torn and in a trash can near Burns' home.

Burns, a convicted felon who has already served a 7-year prison sentence for burglary and arson, and hatched a plan to escape from jail while awaiting trial, will be sentenced next month after the jury returns on January 10, from a Christmas recess.

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