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A violent “third striker” with felony convictions has been found guilty of fatally stabbing a man after two of his previous convictions were dismissed by a California judge who allowed him to participate in a collaborative court program despite objections from prosecutors.

A jury convicted Effrum Maland Burnett, 53, of Yorba Linda, of second-degree murder with a special enhancement for the 2023 killing of Toye Mim Jones outside a sober living home in Anaheim, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said Thursday. 

Burnett, along with Christina Roberts and another man, drove to the sober living home to retrieve a 2009 Dodge Ram truck that Roberts said was hers, Fox Los Angeles reported. During a physical confrontation, Burnett stabbed Jones five times.

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Effrum Maland Burnett mugshot

Convicted murderer Effrum Burnett should not have been out on the streets based on prior convictions but a judge dismissed his prior strikes, prosecutor said. (Orange County jail)

Jones died at the scene. 

Burnett has two prior strikes for kidnapping and robbery convictions in Los Angeles County. In April 2018, an Orange County judge granted Burnett’s request to dismiss his prior strikes to allow him to participate in the Whatever It Takes Court program, which would only be possible if the court struck his prior strikes.

At the time, the program was not intended to serve those with serious prior strikes, citing a public safety risk. The judge granted the request and Burnett’s felony robbery and residential burglary cases were dismissed in December 2020 after he completed the program. 

OCDA billboard

A billboard put up by the Orange County District Attorney’s office that says, “crime doesn’t pay in Orange County. If you steal, we prosecute” is part of a new public safety campaign.  (Orange County District Attorney’s Office)

“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. 

State lawmakers and the courts have allowed dangerous criminals into such programs, Spitzer said. 

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“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,” he added. “This is one of those cases and a man paid the price for it with his life.”

Burnett faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on July 19. 

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