MAYVILLE, NY – Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt held a media availability briefing Thursday, providing an update on Michael Burham.
A statement issued by DA Schmidt is posted below.
“I have been asked by a number of news outlets what awaits Mr. Burham here in New York State. At this point I think it’s clear to everyone who has followed these awful events that Mr. Burham is the prime suspect in the killing of Kala Hodgkin and a related arson committed on May 11th in the City of Jamestown. It also seems apparent that, after committing these horrific acts, Mr. Burham fled the State, entered into the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, abducted an elderly couple, and then traveled south where he was eventually apprehended in South Carolina on May 24th.
Since before his capture, I was in contact with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and District Attorney Rob Greene of Warren County, Pennsylvania, where the abduction occurred, so that we could coordinate our respective efforts in the most effective and sensible way possible to ensure that Mr. Burham is held accountable for his actions.
With that, I arranged for the removal of all detainers lodged against Mr. Burham here in New York, and yesterday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office formally dismissed its charges under Federal law, thereby paving the way for Pennsylvania to go forward with the prosecution of kidnapping charges filed by Pennsylvania State Police and District Attorney Greene’s office. As a predicate to that, our State Court is already engaged in the necessary extradition process so that Mr. Burham will be transported to Pennsylvania.
Letting Pennsylvania go first provides us with further time to continue to develop the evidence just as we have been doing since the early morning hours of May 11th. Understand that, once we charge any crime, the right to counsel attaches, limiting our ability to interview the suspect, and our ongoing investigation is also further complicated by New York’s discovery laws applicable in criminal proceedings.
Taking all of this into careful consideration, it is in our interest to avail ourselves of the opportunity created by the Pennsylvania prosecution – that is, to delay charging for Kala’s murder until we are in the best possible position to proceed with the prosecution. Obviously we are headed in that direction, but we are not there just yet. We will be shortly. The day will come in fairly short order when Mr. Burham will be held to answer for his conduct here in New York.”