Crime - Sacto 911

Pair held in death of Sacramento 6-year-old return to court

A courtroom sketch shows murder suspect Juan Rivera being arraigned earlier this month.
A courtroom sketch shows murder suspect Juan Rivera being arraigned earlier this month. Vicki Ellen Behringer

Bail was set Friday at $1 million for the mother accused of helping her son Juan Riveracover up the death of 6-year-old Jadianna Larsen last month.

Lisa Suzanne Burton will next appear in court with Rivera in August.

Rivera, then Burton, made brief appearances Friday morning in a Sacramento County jail courtroom before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gregory Haas and a long row of photographers. Rivera, 25, is being held at the jail without bail on allegations that he killed Jadianna with a blunt-force instrument.

The girl’s charred body was found May 28 in a remote field off a county road in rural Glenn County. Burton, 46, is being held on suspicion of being an accessory after the fact, accused of helping her son cover up the crime. Both return to Sacramento Superior Court on Aug. 7.

Burton had been held without bail since her May 29 arrest. Her attorney, John Buchholz, called on Haas to lower Burton’s bail to $100,000. Haas ultimately agreed with prosecutors who asked for the $1 million bail, saying the amount should be set high pending further review as attorneys continue to gather evidence and statements in the case.

Rivera, the boyfriend of Jadianna’s mother, Tanecia Clark, was supposed to be taking care of the child at a Martin Luther King Jr. Village apartment on May 28 while Clark was undergoing mental health treatment, authorities said. Rivera told authorities he suffered a series of seizures that day and when the episodes had passed hours later, Jadianna had vanished.

On Friday, Haas also ruled on photographers’ depictions of the mother-and-son defendants, upholding an earlier ruling that photographers and videographers could not capture images of their faces until their attorneys had the opportunity to gather more information in the case. Attorneys for the two had argued that print and broadcast images of Rivera and Burton would unfairly prejudice potential jurors and jeopardize the defendants’ right to a fair hearing.

On Friday afternoon, the District Attorney’s Office nonetheless released the May 29 booking photos of the two defendants for the first time.

Haas had considered extending the depiction ban to courtroom sketches after drawings published from a June 2 hearing showed the faces of Burton and Rivera. But sketch artist Vicki Ellen Behringer defended her role from the gallery, citing case law that sketches are equivalent to a reporter’s note taking and should be allowed. Haas agreed.

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