Man convicted of killing paramedic avoids life without parole

Christian Burton, 22, was found guilty of murdering Quinn Boyer in 2013, but avoided the harshest sentence

Angela Ruggiero
East Bay Times

OAKLAND — Liz and Quinn Boyer were newlyweds and wanted to start a family, but the two paramedics never got the chance after her husband was fatally shot, the widow said Friday, crying, as she spoke at one of his killer’s sentencing hearing.

Boyer, 34, of Dublin, was shot the morning of April 2, 2013, when he had pulled over to use his cellphone in the Oakland hills, after having just dropped off his father at home from a doctor’s appointment.

Christian Burton, 22, was found guilty in October of Boyer’s murder, with the special circumstance of murder during the commission of a carjacking. But the jury did not find that he was the shooter. On Friday, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy sentenced him to 25 years to life in prison. Given his convictions, he could have served life without the possibility of parole.

But before the judge handed down his sentence, Quinn Boyer’s wife, Liz Boyer, spoke of the day she found out her husband was shot. At the grocery store, getting ingredients for their lunch, she saw she had six missed calls: It was Oakland police, calling for “Mrs. Boyer” to tell her that her husband had been hurt.

Liz Boyer was also a paramedic, in Alameda County while her husband worked in Santa Clara County. In her statement to the court, she described arriving at Highland Hospital, a hospital she had been to countless times to bring in gunshot victims.

“I remember sitting on the bathroom floor, not being able to breathe,” she said.

Her husband had just surprised her days before with a trip to Hawaii, before he was set to begin his physicians assistant program at Stanford University.

“There are no words to describe sitting on that plane with an urn on my lap, instead of him next to me, holding his hand,” she said.

His close cousin, Justus Dobrin, also gave an emotional statement, talking of the children that Liz and Quinn Boyer would never have, and how his own children would never get to meet their uncle.

“When you lose a family member, you don’t lose just a person, you lose a whole branch of the family,” Dobrin said.

Burton, who was 16 at the time of the murder, barely reacted when the judge sentenced him to the lesser sentence of 25 years to life. Judge Murphy said that “either option is severe,” and took into consideration his criminal history, the law and the convictions. He also took into account Burton’s mental health; his attorney Ernie Castillo said he had an IQ of 58, a learning disability and a traumatic childhood.

“We’re dealing with a teenage kid here,” Castillo said. “Life without the possibility of parole is too oppressive.”

But prosecutor Jimmie Wilson, in his statement to the judge said that the young man made a decision — no one made him pick up a gun and take something that didn’t belong to him.

“I don’t think Mr. Burton cares about what he did,” Wilson said. “And I think that’s sad, and that’s tragic.”

Boyer had been using his phone in his Honda Civic on Keller Avenue in the Oakland hills that April morning when two teenage boys, one with a gun, approached him and tried to rob him.

Prosecutors alleged that it was Burton and the other teen, Nazhee Flowers, who got out of the car to approach Boyer and that Burton shot him. There were four other teens inside the car they got out of. The group of them had been accused of going on a two-day crime spree that included two carjackings, Boyer’s murder and the wounding of a 14-year-old Frick Middle School student shot in the buttocks.

Burton later confessed to police his involvement in the crime, but his attorney suggested that it was a false confession, and brought in a leading expert to testify.

This was the second trial for Burton; a mistrial was declared in 2015 after a jury deadlocked 7-5 in favor of convicting him.


©2019 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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