January 21, 2012



FARMINGTON -- A Massachusetts man accused of fatally stabbing an 81-year-old Farmington woman pleaded not guilty Friday in Franklin County Superior Court.

click image to enlarge

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

Juan A. Contreras, 27, of 92 Chester Lane, Waltham, Mass., faces a murder charge in connection with the death of Grace Burton, who police say was stabbed 35 times and died as a result of the attack inside her apartment June 21.

In court Friday morning, Contreras, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, handcuffs and leg shackles, nodded his head and whispered "yes" to acknowledge that he understood the murder charge before entering his plea.

Burton's friends and family sat silent and motionless on a second-row bench, just a few feet behind Contreras in the small courtroom.

During the brief arraignment hearing, Justice Michaela Murphy ordered that Contreras remain held without bail until his next court date on June 5, when the status of the case will be discussed by attorneys.

Julie Shaw, Burton's daughter, was among those who filed out of the courtroom after the hearing. Shaw and others with her declined to comment.

A trial would likely not start until November, according to Murphy. The murder charge has a minimum sentence of 25 years to life.

Contreras has been held without bail since his arrest Nov. 17 in Waltham. Police said DNA links him to a trail of blood Burton's attacker left at the Margaret Chase Smith Apartments on Fairbanks Road.

Prosecutors from the Franklin County District Attorney's Office handled Friday's arraignment hearing on behalf of Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese, who is prosecuting the case.

David Sanders, Contreras' court-appointed attorney, told the court on Friday that he did not oppose the decision to hold his client without bail until the next court date.

David Robinson - 861-9287


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

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at OnlineSentinel.com 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.)