Crime - Sacto 911

Mother accused of helping son cover up killing of 6-year-old freed from Sacramento jail

Lisa Suzanne Burton, 46, is charged as an accessory after the fact in the death of Jadianna Larsen, 6. She is the mother of murder defendant Juan Rivera.
Lisa Suzanne Burton, 46, is charged as an accessory after the fact in the death of Jadianna Larsen, 6. She is the mother of murder defendant Juan Rivera. Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office

The Sacramento woman accused of helping her son cover up the killing of 6-year-old Jadianna Larsen in May 2015 was freed on her own recognizance Friday pending a March court hearing to set a trial date in the girl’s death.

Lisa Burton, 48, and son Juan Rivera, 27, were bound over for trial at their January preliminary hearing in Jadianna’s death. Burton faces a single count of accessory after the fact. Prosecutors say she swiped keys to her boyfriend’s sport utility vehicle, used by Rivera to drive and dump Jadianna’s body in rural Glenn County. Rivera faces a murder charge in the girl’s killing.

But Burton, held in Sacramento County custody since Larsen’s body was found nearly two years ago, refused to waive her speedy trial rights at the January hearing as her attorney argued that Burton should be freed or allowed to post bail.

With the time credits Burton earned in jail, Burton was close to the maximum amount of time she could be held in custody, her defense attorney Sacramento County Deputy Public Defender John Buchholz argued in motions filed late last month.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White agreed Friday, granting Burton’s release with an order to return March 24 along with orders to stay away from Jadianna’s mother, Rivera’s former girlfriend, Tanecia Clark.

Rivera, who remains held without bail at the Sacramento County Main Jail, will also appear March 24 before White.

Prosecutors say Rivera was watching Jadianna at the apartment complex where Burton also lived while Clark was undergoing mental health treatment when he called authorities late May 27, 2015, to report the girl missing.

Rivera had told investigators he suffered a long bout of seizures and that when the seizures ended, Jadianna was nowhere to be found. Rivera said he and Burton searched the complex for about a half-hour before calling 911.

Prosecutors allege that Rivera sexually abused the girl and then fatally struck her with a blunt object at their apartment before loading her body into a car for the drive to Glenn County.

Jadianna’s charred body was found the next day.

Attorneys for Clark, Jadianna’s mother, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in January against agencies including Sacramento County, Child Protective Services and the Department of Health and Human Services, claiming they and others repeatedly failed to safeguard her child despite numerous reports of child abuse.

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith

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