Burton-Hill Murder Trial

Patrick Dale Burton-Hill, center, listens to opening testimony in Judge Lyle's courtroom at the Rabinowitz Courthouse Thursday afternoon, February 8, 2018. Burton-Hill is charged with murder in the May 2015 shooting death of John Kavairlook Jr. outside the Rock-N-Rodeo Bar.

FAIRBANKS — A Fairbanks jury acquitted Patrick Dale Burton-Hill of three counts of murder Thursday afternoon.

The jury of nine women and three men deliberated for about eight hours before reaching a decision.

Burton-Hill, 24, of San Pablo, California, was charged with one count of first-degree and two counts of second-degree murder for the 2015 shooting death of 23-year-old John D. Kavairlook.

One of Burton-Hill’s relatives cried out in exaltation when the not-guilty verdicts were announced. Kavairlook’s family members gasped in disbelief and cried as they hugged each other.

The shooting occurred in the early hours of May 17, 2015, after Kavairlook and Burton-Hill’s friend, Demarius Hinson, were kicked out of the Rock N Rodeo bar for getting in a fight. Kavairlook was joined outside by his wife, Shalene Kavairlook, and a friend. Hinson was joined by Burton-Hill, Kelvin Burton and Joel Joseph.

The fight resumed in the nearby Walgreens parking lot and Kavairlook’s wife was punched in the stomach and mouth. Kavairlook grabbed two handfuls of rocks and ran toward the men. Burton-Hill grabbed Hinson’s Glock 9 mm pistol from his SUV and fired 12 rounds at Kavairlook. One of the bullets entered the back right side of Kavairlook’s head and exited at the top of his left ear. He died at the scene.

Burton-Hill’s attorney didn’t dispute that his client killed Kavairlook but claimed he did so because he thought Kavairlook was armed and was going to hurt him and his friends.

Assistant District Attorneys Andrew Baldock argued Burton-Hill was clearly not afraid, citing Walgreens parking lot surveillance footage which shows Burton-Hill grabbing the gun before he, Burton and Joseph advance on Kavairlook and appear to taunt him.

To obtain a murder conviction, the state needed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Burton-Hill did not act in self-defense when he shot Kavairlook.

According to Superior Court Judge Paul Lyle’s instructions to the jury, Burton-Hill could use deadly force in self-defense if he reasonably believed the deadly force was necessary for self-defense against imminent death or serious physical injury. Burton-Hill could not use deadly force in self-defense if he knew that, with complete personal safety and with complete safety as to others being defended, he could avoid using deadly force by leaving the area. He did not have a duty to leave if he were in any place where he had a right to be, according to Lyle’s instructions.

Burton-Hill, Hinson, Burton and Joseph fled the scene after the shooting and drove back to Anchorage, where they were living at the time. Burton-Hill fled to California and then to Ohio. Joseph fled to Texas, and Hinson fled to Florida.

Fairbanks police detectives located Burton-Hill in a Cleveland, Ohio, jail, where he was being held on a charge of felony aggravated third-degree assault for allegedly shooting at employees inside a store during a robbery there Feb. 15, 2016. Burton-Hill and three other men were arrested by a gang-impact unit after a SWAT team was called in, according to a Raycom News Network online article about the incident.

Burton-Hill was extradited to Fairbanks for the Kavairlook trial and will now be flown back to Cleveland for sentencing in the store shooting.

Burton-Hill also has a pending September 2015 case in Las Vegas in which he’s charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.