Lisa Suzanne Burton, the woman accused of helping her son cover up the killing of 6-year-old Jadianna Larsen in 2015, has a warrant out for her arrest Friday after failing to appear before a Sacramento judge to set a trial date in the girl’s death.
Burton, 46, faces a felony count of being an accessory after the fact, suspected of helping son Juan Rivera dispose of the girl’s body by taking the keys to her boyfriend’s sport-utility vehicle. Sacramento County prosecutors say Rivera used the SUV to haul the girl’s body to Glenn County.
The girl’s charred remains were discovered off a road in the rural county 90 miles north of Sacramento on May 28, 2015. Rivera, 25, remains held without bail in Sacramento County custody on a murder charge in the girl’s death.
Prosecutors allege Rivera sexually assaulted the girl before killing her with a blunt object and dumping her body.
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Rivera, appearing heavier, his hair longer, was led into court in shackles Friday. But Burton’s location remained an open question.
Burton’s defense counsel, Sacramento County Deputy Public Defender John Buchholz, told Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White he had not heard from Burton since her release, but was told by Burton’s friends that she spent time in a Woodland mental health facility since her February release from Sacramento County Main Jail and may be at a second mental health facility in Sacramento County.
Buchholz after the hearing said he planned to work the phones to find his client.
Buchholz will have time. White set a May 2018 trial date in the kindergartner’s killing – the three-year anniversary of Jadianna’s death.
Burton has a long history of failing to appear in court on lesser crimes, mainly drug-related offenses, according to court records, but the Sacramento woman was nearing the maximum amount of time she could be held in custody without trial, and White at a February hearing ordered her released with a promise to return.
Rivera was watching young Jadianna for his then-girlfriend, the girl’s mother, Tanecia Clark at the south Sacramento apartment complex where Rivera, Clark and Burton all lived, while Clark was undergoing mental health treatment, prosecutors said.
Authorities were called to the apartment after a 911 call late on May 27, 2015, that prosecutors said was placed by Rivera to report Jadianna missing. Rivera had told investigators that he had suffered a long series of seizures during the day and that when he revived, the girl was gone.
Jadianna’s remains were found the following day.
Detectives at Rivera and Burton’s preliminary hearing testified that cellular phone tower pings and surveillance cameras tracked what they suspect was Rivera’s drive from south Sacramento to Glenn County to dispose of the body. Criminologists also testified that traces of DNA consistent with Rivera’s were found on the girl’s clothes.
Meantime, a wrongful death suit filed in January by attorneys representing Clark, Jadianna’s mother, target a number of agencies, including Sacramento County, Child Protective Services and the Department of Health and Human Services, alleging they and others repeatedly failed to safeguard Jadianna despite numerous reports of child abuse.
Sacramento County child welfare workers had an open file on Jadianna almost from the time she was born, records showed.
Prosecutors at the Friday hearing said they have nearly 1,000 pages of county child protective services records related to the girl.