Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
July 30, 2009
Susan Kang Schroeder
CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT AFFIRMS DEATH PENALTY FOR 1992 ROBBERY-KIDNAPPING MURDER OF COLLEGE STUDENT
SANTA ANA— The California Supreme Court affirmed the death penalty verdict today against gang member Shaun Kareem Burney, who robbed, kidnapped, and murdered a 21-year-old college student with two co-defendants. The Court affirmed “the judgment in its entirety” stating that there was “overwhelming evidence in support of a conviction for deliberate premeditated first degree murder.”
“Although it took 15 long years from trial to affirmance, I am really happy for the Kondrath family that there is another small measure of justice concerning the ruthless and senseless murder of their son and brother, Joey,” stated Assistant District Attorney David Brent of the Homicide Unit, who was the original prosecutor that conducted the jury trial.
GUILT PHASE EVIDENCE
On June 10, 1992, three gang member defendants, 18-year-old Burney, and 20-year-old Allen Dean Burnett II and Scott Boxer Rembert left their apartment to assault acquaintance Ron Hussar and steal his stereo. When they could not find Hussar, they decided to steal a car to commit a drive-by shooting against rival gang members. While looking for Hussar, they saw victim Joseph Kondrath, who did not know the defendants, getting into his car in his apartment complex carport. Kondrath was a college student who was on his way to his part-time job at a grocery store. The defendants approached the victim and asked him for the time. When the victim rolled the window down, the defendants forced the victim out of his car at gunpoint.
Despite the fact that the victim offered to give his car to the defendants and asked them not to hurt him, they robbed him of his wallet, forced him into the trunk of his automobile, and drove to a friend’s house. The three then borrowed a shotgun from the friend and fired gunshots into an apartment where Burnett’s former girlfriend lived. The bullets missed the woman’s head by six inches. The three decided to kill Kondrath because they did not want the victim to be able to identify them. They drove to Crescent Avenue in Anaheim and stopped the car. When Burney opened the trunk of the car, the victim begged, “don’t hurt me.” Burney, at the urging of his co-defendants, executed Kondrath by shooting him once in the head. They fled the scene, leaving the car which was later found by a traffic enforcement officer. The next day, Burney told his girlfriend that he shot the victim and it was his seventh murder. Several days later, Burney confessed to police on video tape that he had kidnapped and murdered Kondrath. Burnett and Rembert told the police that the three discussed killing the victim to prevent him from identifying them before Burney shot the victim in the trunk.
PENALTY PHASE EVIDENCE
During the penalty phase, the People