California 'third striker,' who prosecutors warned posed threat to public, convicted of murder

Effrum Maland Burnett.

A 53-year-old man with a violent criminal history has been convicted of murder after a judge allowed him to participate in a collaborative court program, despite objections from Orange County prosecutors.

Effrum Maland Burnett, 53, of Yorba Linda, was found guilty of second-degree murder for the stabbing death of Toye Mim Jones outside a sober living home in Anaheim last year. Burnett, who has two prior strikes for kidnapping and robbery in Los Angeles County, also received a special enhancement for using a knife in the murder.

The deadly stabbing happened on July 18, 2023, when Burnett, along with Christina Roberts and another man, drove to the sober living home on Canton Avenue to retrieve a 2009 Dodge Ram truck that Roberts claimed was hers. A confrontation ensued between Jones and Roberts, escalating into a physical altercation involving Burnett. After being hit in the eye by Jones, Burnett stabbed him five times, puncturing his heart. Jones was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

Burnett faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, with sentencing scheduled for July 19, 2024, in Department C35 of the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

In April 2018, Burnett was facing felony charges for robbery and burglary when he asked an Orange County Superior Court judge to strike his prior strikes and allow him to join the Whatever It Takes Court program. At the time, the program was not intended for individuals with serious prior offenses and his entry into the program would only be possible if the court struck his prior strikes. Despite prosecutors' warnings about Burnett's risk to public safety, the court granted his request, leading to the dismissal of his felony cases in December 2020 after he completed the program.

"We warned the Court that this individual’s serious and violent criminal history posed too great of a risk to public safety, and he should not have been allowed to participate in a program in which his past criminal behavior excluded him from eligibility," said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. "Judges must balance the potential benefits with protecting public safety, and there are cases where the facts and the criminal history simply cannot be ignored. This is one of those cases and a man paid the price for it with his life."