Murderer blames victim, gets 48 years in prison

Kenneth Wright

In a rambling 10-minute speech, a Rifle man who pleaded guilty in the beating death of a De Beque rancher told a judge he was sorry before repeatedly blaming the victim.

“This man couldn’t keep his mouth shut,” 44-year-old Kenneth Wright said at his sentencing hearing this morning.

Parts of the speech drew audible gasps from the numerous family members in attendance for slain 52-year-old Steven Burdick, who, according to Assistant District Attorney Rich Tuttle, was beaten about the head “at least” 14 times with the wooden handle of a sledgehammer in his home Aug. 2, 2009.

Wright interrupted District Judge Valerie Robison as the judge started to pronounce her sentence.

“So, it’s OK for him (Burdick) to just blurt out about screwing my wife and laughing about it?,” Wright asked.

Robison sentenced Wright to 48 years in prison, which was the maximum term available to the judge under the terms of a plea agreement struck in June. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss all charges, including first-degree murder, in exchange for Wright’s guilty plea to a lone count of second-degree murder.

Wright had admitted to investigators he hit Burdick multiple times in the head, “baseball style,” with a wooden handle, saying he “snapped” after several comments Burdick allegedly made about Wright’s wife, according to an arrest affidavit. Wright, at the time serving probation, had lived with Burdick working as a hired hand and performing odd jobs at Burdick’s ranch.

Read more in Saturday’s Daily Sentinel.


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