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.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.