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Crime & Courts

Palmer murder suspect said he was just ‘playing around’ with gun, documents say

  • Author: Zaz Hollander
  • Updated: September 17
  • Published September 17

PALMER — Palmer police responding to a report of a shooting early Saturday found 23-year-old Crissilin O. Cruz bleeding on the couch and her 22-year-old roommate, Brian T. Burton, hyperventilating and wailing intermittently.

That's according to a sworn affidavit filed with second-degree murder charges against Burton in Palmer Superior Court.

Burton later told police "we play around sometimes" — meaning he'd point an unloaded gun at Cruz and press the trigger — but he didn't realize the black SCCY 9 mm handgun was loaded, states the affidavit signed by Palmer police officer Daniel Potter.

A downstairs neighbor at an apartment on West Fern Avenue called police around 2:45 a.m. after another roommate of Burton and Cruz came down and told him there'd been a shooting, the document states.

Potter said Cruz had a gunshot wound in her chest but also a grazing wound on her hand "as if she was holding her hand up when shot."

She was pronounced dead at 3:05 a.m.

Burton, whose eyes were bloodshot and speech slurred, registered more than twice the legal limit for driving when he took a breath-alcohol test at 3:30 a.m., Potter said. He also found what looked like marijuana on a coffee table in the apartment.

Burton was questioned at the Palmer police station, where he told Potter that he and Cruz went to a bonfire on Lazy Mountain earlier that night, where he drank and carried his pistol, the document states. He said he usually carried it unloaded in his waistband because he doesn't have a holster.

Shortly after they got home, Burton told Potter, he was "playing around, pointed the pistol at Crissilin and pulled the trigger," according to the affidavit. Burton told the officer he thought of Cruz as a sister. They had worked together in the past and known each other for three years.

He told Potter he didn't check the gun to see if it was loaded, the officer wrote. Their roommate said all three had been drinking, but Burton and Cruz "had a lot."

Burton was arraigned over the weekend. He was ordered jailed on $20,000 cash/corporate appearance bond, a $10,000 cash performance bond and electronic monitoring supervision by the Pretrial Enforcement Division, according to a state courts database.

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