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Q111 bus murderer gets 95 years in jail

Damel Burton is sentenced to 95 years to life in prison for a shooting rampage in South Jamaica in 2011. Photo by Ellis Kaplan
TimesLedger Newspapers

The ex-con who murdered his girlfriend’s son inside her Baisley Park Houses apartment two years ago and then opened fire on passengers inside a city bus was sentenced to nearly 100 years in prison last week, the borough’s top prosecutor said.

Authorities said Damel Burton, 34, shot 18-year-old Keith Murell inside his mother’s apartment in December 2011 and then boarded a Q111 bus, where he fatally shot passenger Marvin Gilkes and injured another straphanger.

After a jury convicted Burton of the two murders and attempted murder earlier this month, Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter sentenced him last week to 95 years to life in prison.

District Attorney Richard Brown said the “senseless violence” of Burton’s actions warranted the heavy term.

“The defendant’s capacity for causing senseless violence in such a short period of time can only be described as incomprehensible and as having no place in a civilized society,” he said. “His actions were both vicious and unprovoked. The sentence imposed by the court is more than justified in order to punish the defendant and forever protect society.”

Burton was living in South Jamaica’s Baisley Houses in 2011 after being released from a seven-year prison sentence on armed robbery charges.

At the time of his arrest, police said he told investigators he thought he was being followed “by people who were out to get him. People that he doesn’t know but those people know the victims of the people he has robbed. People have been trying to get him wherever he goes.”

Investigators said Burton fired one shot into the chest of Murell, who ran into his room, closed the door and jumped from his second-story window. He was helped across the street and later pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital.

The 18-year old was about to finish school to become a mechanic.

Burton then left the Baisley Houses and boarded a Q111 bus.

Once on board, he shot Gilkes in the back of the head and shot another passenger, Jajuan Lipsey, in the face, authorities said.

Gilkes was pronounced dead at the scene and Lipsey recovered from his non-life-threatening injuries.

Gilkes was a 36-year-old Trinidadian native who had recently moved to Rochdale Village and was getting married to his longtime girlfriend.

He had spent 16 years as a police officer in his homeland, and at his funeral his brethren in blue paid tribute to his service with an NYPD bagpiper playing before the services began.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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