Sunday, January 1, 2012

Saskia Burke

Murder Suspect Could Face Death Penalty

The District Attorney will decide whether to pursue capital punishment at a later date, an official says.

William Gary Simpson Jr., 19, appeared in a courtroom at the Southwest Justice Center in French Valley for his arraignment today, which was postponed until Jan. 13.

He was charged with the murder of Saskia Burke and attacking her family in their Murrieta home. 

Along with the murder count, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office has filed a special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a burglary, DA Spokesperson John Hall said.

"That special circumstance allegation makes Simpson eligible for the death penalty," Hall said.
A decision whether to seek death will be made by District Attorney Paul Zellerbach at a later date, Hall said.

If death is not sought, Simpson would face a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Simpson sat alone on a wooden bench wearing an orange prison uniform, shackled at the wrists and ankles, while Saskia Burke's parents and friends sat in the audience. Simpson's family sat on the other side of the courtroom.

He allegedly broke in and stabbed Saskia to death and seriously injured her father, Paul, and boyfriend, Connor McCormack.

According to the Riverside County District Attorney's Office, Simpson had lived with the Burkes on and off in 2010.

The alleged attacker was tracked down and arrested at his mother's home in Hesperia after a four-day law enforcement search.

Attorney David Macher spoke on behalf of the Public Defender's office, and asked Judge Angel M. Bermudez to postpone the arraignment until an attorney could be permanently assigned to defend Simpson.

Macher also asked that his office be contacted before the court allowed media to photograph Simpson at his next hearing. He complained that 100 photos had already been snapped of Simpson before he had a chance to approach the bench.

Saskia's mother, Catherine, appeared alongside her husband, who has been released from the hospital after suffering stab wounds in the attack. The couple declined to speak with media.
Simpson is being held without the possiblity of bail.


  1. It’s the screams. I hear her scream, and it’s the sound a mother knows, that something terrible and scary has happened. I hear it in her screams. But when I run to her, she is already gone. Dead. She is lying there, lifeless, and my world has ended. Nothing matters. If he kills Paul, if he kills Connor, if he kills me, nothing matters.

    I could have fought – more, harder. I took TWO knives away from him, I could have killed him. But nothing mattered. I couldn’t think beyond ‘she is dead, my baby girl is dead’. And that horror, in its absolute knowledge, was more than I will ever be able to bear.

    What becomes of Gary, what they do or don’t do to him doesn’t matter. My baby is dead. No justice will resurrect her. And I miss her, with total desperation, I miss her. My heart physically aches, my mind screams all the time for her. To come back, to not be dead, to not leave me.

  2. Momma,

    I know that nothing I can say or do will ever give you any sense of relief or even a second of peace, but know Saskia will NEVER be forgotten.

    You need to go on, somehow, anyhow. Saskia would want it that way.

    We would all love for her to be back, as we do with all of our murdered children. We have to go on and fight to end this insanity, for their sake.

    If there is anything I can do, please let me know, my email is

    Know that you are not alone, other parents have contacted me about their children and they feel the emptiness and hurt like you do. Together we can all make it through to the other side and stop this madness.

    Saskia and you and your family will remain in my thoughts and prayers.


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