Drug-fueled argument turned deadly for Burnistons: affidavit


JONESBORO, Ark. – On Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, Shawn G. Burniston beat his wife to death with a pool cue and axe handle in a trailer home on Arrowhead Farm Road, a probable cause affidavit made available to NEA Report asserts.

The two were high on drugs and fighting, Burniston reportedly said. He attempted suicide but did not succeed before authorities responded, taking him first to St. Bernard’s Medical Center for treatment. He then was transported to Craighead County Detention Center, where his mug shot was taken showing him wearing a green suicide vest.

Shawn G. Burniston. Source: CCDC

In between when authorities arrived at 1610 Arrowhead Farm Road, trailer #22, to take custody of Burniston and when he was deposited at the jail, he admitted to them what had happened. He said the two were “high” and they were fighting because he believed she was cheating on him.

“Later, during a recorded and Mirandized interview with Mr. Burniston, he fully admitted that he struck the victim multiple times with a pool cue and axe handle and gave details that matched injuries given by a preliminary coroner’s report, as well as a later preliminary autopsy report done by the Arkansas State Crime Lab,” the report said.

“I just took it too far this time,” Burniston was quoted as saying on a recorded interview.

Several witnesses were on the scene when officers arrived. One neighbor who was with the victim and suspect following the brutality said Burniston kept saying to her that he had killed his wife and that he, “just wanted to die too.” Another neighbor was located and stated that Burniston called him and told him, “I killed Jessica,” and that he had cut himself and, “was dying, too.” A third witness, assisting the first witness prior to officers arriving, also heard statements from the suspect admitting he had killed his wife and wanted to die.

Shawn and Jessica Burniston in a photo from 2017. Source: Facebook

Jessica Burniston was seen to have several severe injuries to her face, head and body. Crime scene investigators believed the victim suffered blunt force trauma to her face and head, causing her death. This was due to no other wounds or injuries and because, “her facial and head injuries were so severe.”

At St. Bernard’s, while being treated for his attempted suicide, Burniston made several unsolicited statements that he had killed Jessica and he had done so with a, “pool cue and axe handle.” This matched the injuries authorities observed. This was when he stated the two had been using drugs and fighting over suspicions of infidelity he had.

Burniston is facing a class Y felony of first degree murder. If found guilty, he faces 10 to 40 years or life in prison. He learned he would be held in Craighead County Detention Center on a $1 million bond on Tuesday, January 2. His next court date is at 8:30 a.m. on February 26, 2018.

Jessica D. Burniston, 43, of Jonesboro, was killed on Dec. 28 in a drug-fueled domestic fight. Source: Facebook

It wasn’t the first time authorities had been to the address, though. On Nov. 14, the Jonesboro Sun reported officers responded to a residential burglary in progress. The caller, Shawn G. Burniston, told police several people in black ski masks were trying to force his front door open with a pry bar. Officers found no evidence of this but they did find evidence of Burniston being on drugs. He had bloody spots on his legs from picking off scabs and having hallucinations of people who weren’t there. Police found a razor blade with white powder on it which tested positive for cocaine. It was in plain view.

One day prior to allegedly murdering his wife, Burniston appeared in Circuit Court to set a plea and motion date for the felony possession of drug paraphernalia charge he received from the November incident.

Photo source: KJNB

Featured photo credit: KJNB. 

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