Lisa Suzanne Burton and her son Juan Rivera sat silently beside their attorneys through two days of preliminary-hearing testimony in a Sacramento courtroom as detectives and experts detailed the evidence prosecutors say shows Rivera sexually assaulted and murdered his girlfriend’s young daughter and that Burton covered up the killing.
Burton looked exhausted as Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White declared she and Rivera be held to answer to the allegations in connection to Jadianna Larsen’s death at trial.
Then Burton’s face changed as she glared at Rivera and demanded answers.
“I want to know what you know about Chloe. I want to know,” she said.
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Burton’s voice rose as she spoke. She was seemingly near tears, but Rivera remained silent.
Who and where is Chloe? What happened to her? What does Rivera know?
The questions remained unanswered Friday.
Burton declined to speak with The Sacramento Bee at Sacramento County Main Jail, where she has been held since 6-year-old Jadianna’s body was recovered May 28, 2015, near a rural road in Glenn County, 90 miles north of Sacramento.
A few blocks away at the District Attorney’s Office, prosecutors have questions, too, but were nearly as tight-lipped.
“We’re aware of what was said in open court,” Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Rod Norgaard said Friday. “We’re looking into it.”
Burton’s attorney, county Assistant Public Defender John Buchholz, was unavailable Friday. Immediately following his client’s outburst, Buchholz said he had “no idea” who Chloe is or what Burton was talking about.
Burton, 45, faces charges of being an accessory after the fact in Jadianna’s killing. She refused to waive her right to a speedy trial and will return to court Feb. 3 to learn if she can be freed on her own recognizance or be allowed to post bail.
Rivera, 25, remains jailed in county custody without bail. He will return to court March 24.
Jadianna was killed by as many as four blows from a blunt instrument, medical examiners testified. Prosecutors allege Rivera loaded Jadianna’s body into a Ford Explorer lifted from Burton’s boyfriend, drove north to Glenn County, then dumped the body and set it on fire near a county road.
Rivera had called authorities to the apartment complex the night before the girl’s body was found to say she had vanished from their apartment sometime while Rivera battled a flurry of seizures. Rivera said he revived late that night, and that he and Burton searched the apartment complex before calling 911.
Jadianna was in Rivera’s care while her mother was undergoing mental health treatment, family members said.
Detectives testified that DNA found on Jadianna’s underwear and T-shirts was linked to Rivera. They also testified that security camera footage and cellular tower pings appeared to track Rivera from Sacramento to a Walmart on Truxel Road, where a man they suspect was Rivera was carrying a gas can, to Glenn County and south again to Sacramento.
Attorneys for Tanecia Clark, Jadianna’s mother, filed a wrongful-death suit this month against Sacramento County, Child Protective Services and others, alleging they failed to protect Jadianna from harm “over the course of her short life.”