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Victim of home invasions opposes freedom for accused

Badillo ruled not a danger, not competent to stand trial

Christian Badillo, seen here in a June 2010 appearance in Cos Superior Court, who had been indicted for burglary and attempted robbery as a result of a Nov. 2009 home invasion in Berlin, was recently deemed incompetent to stand trial and found not to be a danger to himself or others after being shot in the head during the alleged commission of those crimes. Edith Tucker. (click for larger version)
March 17, 2011
LANCASTER — One of three armed men who forcibly entered a Berlin apartment on Nov. 24, 2009, will face no punishment for his alleged crimes. Charges were dismissed against Christian Badillo, 29, of Berlin, in Cos Superior Court on Dec. 1, after he was found not competent to stand trial.

On Feb. 17, Badillo was also found not to be a danger to himself or others and released from the conditions of his bail.

"It's irritating as hell," Robert Burrill said of the feeling that he is the one who has to leave while a man who terrorized him and his then-girlfriend walks free. Burrill, one of the victims of the crime, said that he felt compelled to leave the Berlin area once Badillo returned from the hospital, free on bail.

Badillo had been charged with burglary and two counts of attempted robbery in the 2009 break-in. He was accused of entering the Third Avenue home of Burrill and Samantha Burns, along with his companions Dennis Ford and Nathaniel Stringfield. The three men were armed, according to police and court documents, and assaulted Burrill and Burns before Burrill was able to retrieve his own handgun and shots were fired. Stringfield was killed by a single gunshot and Badillo critically injured as a result. Ford pled guilty to burglary in Cos Superior Court in June and was sentenced to three to six years in prison.

Badillo sustained three gunshot injuries, though in an interview with Burrill last week he claims to only have shot two rounds, leaving the remaining rounds likely coming from one of the other armed men. It was these injuries that defense attorney Wayne Moynihan argued caused Badillo to be unfit for trial.

Burrill, who has family in the area, said that he feels threatened by Badillo and his friends, noting that rumors abound that Badillo does, in fact, remember the incident and talks about it with friends at local watering holes. He fears retaliation, he said, and moved out of state after a move to Conway provided no relief.

In a June 10 motion to determine competency, Moynihan argued that Badillo was unable to remember the substance of legal discussion after conferences and did not understand the charges against him. Moynihan also wrote in his filing that Badillo, according to medical notes, had suffered a left "hemicraniectomy" from a gunshot to the left frontal cortex and that CT scans show he has the remains of two bullets in his head — one intracranial and one extracranial. In addition to the lapses in memory and expressions of confusion, Badillo suffers from aphasia — a condition in which language function is defective or absent because of injury to the brain — is in constant pain, experiences headaches and dizziness, and takes medication, which affects his judgment and ability to understand, Moynihan wrote. He further argued that Badillo cannot assist in his own defense and did not seem capable of communicating effectually with his attorney.

The competency evaluation and danger evaluations conducted by the state were sealed, but Judge Peter Bornstein ruled in favor of the defense in both cases, dismissing the charges against Badillo, a decision the victim is not sure he agrees with.

Burrill also guessed that Badillo, due to his injuries, may now be eligible to collect Social Security disability payments, and has said he'd rather see taxpayers supporting Badillo behind bars given his past.

At the time of the home invasion at Burrill's residence, Badillo had just recently been freed from jail and was on probation for a 2008 home invasion. On April 6, 2009, Badillo pled guilty in Cos Superior Court to a charge of burglary and three misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief for the Sept. 2008 home invasion and assault of Shannon Orr in Berlin. He was sentenced to 12 months in jail for that crime with six months suspended for two years.

Burrill said his family has been fractured as a result and his mother Liza Burrill echoed those sentiments in a victim-impact statement submitted to the court. "Our small home-town of Berlin has become a sitting duck for the violence of gang-activity and drugs brought to our homes and lives by people like Christhian Badillo."

With anxiety, hyper-vigilance and plenty of trouble sleeping among just a few of the issues Burrill copes with as a result of the attack, he said he finds it unfair that Badillo is left to resume his life. "It hurts to think that I'm the one that has to take off," he said.

While things are rough for Burrill, who is burdened by doctor and lawyer bills as well as the health issues related to the incident, he said he certainly understands how lucky he was to make it out alive. "I thank God everyday that I get to wake up and smell the roses."

Burrill said that he still does not know what the motive was for these men to attack his home. He claims he had not met any of them prior to that evening and does not know if Burns may have known them. Court documents accused Badillo of demanding money while pointing a gun at the couple.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Alton School
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