November 5, 2012

Attorney: Attacker unaware of his actions during killing

Contreras murder trial begins in Farmington, accused of killing Grace Burton last year

By Doug Harlow
Staff Writer

FARMINGTON — The attorney for a man accused of killing an elderly woman in her apartment last year said during his opening statement of the murder trial Monday morning that his client was intoxicated and did not know what he was doing during the attack.

click image to enlarge

Staff photo by David Leaming Juan Contreras is led into Franklin County Superior Court in Farmington Monday, the first day of his trial in the stabbing death of Grace Burton.

click image to enlarge

Staff photo by David Leaming Defendant Juan Contreras, left, with his attorney Chris Berrymint during the first day of Contreras trial in the stabbing death of Grace Burton on Monday in Franklin County Superior Court in Farmington.

Additional Photos Below

Juan Contreras, 27, of Waltham, Mass., is facing a murder charge in Franklin County Superior Court in the death of 81-year-old Grace Burton in June 2011.

Contreras’ court-appointed lawyer Chris Berryment said that "the only question is that he acted intentionally and knowingly."

There was no intent, Berryment told Justice Michaela Murphy and no motive. Burton's purse remained on the kitchen chair, her medications intact in the bathroom.

Contreras pleaded not guilty in January to the murder.

He waived his right to a jury trial in Franklin County Superior Court. David Sanders, his other court-appointed attorney, said that holding a jury trial in Franklin County would have been impossible because of the amount of publicity the case had received.

The trial is scheduled for five days.

Burton was stabbed 35 times in her apartment June 21, 2011, but managed to call police and describe her attacker. She died later that morning at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.

 Police believe that the attacker cut a hole in the screen of an unlocked window to gain access.


Police investigators say they have linked Contreras to the scene by matching his DNA to that of blood found there. Contreras voluntarily gave a DNA sample to investigators, who collected samples from hundreds of men with ties to the area.


Farmington police Sgt. Michael Adcock, who met Contreras when at a bike accident a month after Burton’s murder, became suspicious after Contreras moved back to Massachusetts from the mobile home park on Pillsbury Lane near the apartment where Burton was killed.


The murder charge carries a 25 years-to-life sentence.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Grace Burton


Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)