Orange County man convicted in fatal stabbing of man 'over a truck and a set of lies'

The fatal stabbing of 50-year-old Toye Mims Jones outside an Orange County sober living home was quick and based on a series of lies, prosecutors told an Orange County jury.

On Tuesday, the jury found Effrum Maland Burnett, 53, guilty of second-degree murder in Jones' death, which prosecutors say was prompted by false allegations by a friend of Jones that Jones had raped her and stolen her truck. The killing took place on July 18, 2023, outside a sober living home in Anaheim.

According to the Orange County district attorney's office, Burnett had arrived that afternoon at the Sober Living House on Canton Avenue with Bryon Martinez and Christina Roberts with the intention of retrieving a truck.

Roberts told Martinez and Burnett that she had been kidnapped, drugged and raped by Jones and his roommate at the sober living home, according to court documents. When Roberts woke up after the drugging, she claimed, her kidnappers allowed her to leave but kept her pickup truck.

None of that was true, prosecutors said.

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Burnett hadn't met Jones before that day, and the truck did not belong to Roberts. She made up the story just to get Martinez and Burnett to help her steal it, according to court records.

Outside the sober living home, Burnett drove his car up to a Dodge pickup truck and tried to start the vehicle. Jones came out of the home and confronted Roberts, then fought briefly with Burnett before going back into the house, investigators say.

Two other men, Jorge Hinojosa-Salazar and Bryan Huntington, were inside the sober living home at the time. Hinojosa-Salazar told investigators that Jones walked into the house and said, "Going outside to fight Red," referring to Burnett.

Jones walked back outside and told Burnett, "Not in front of the house," according to court records.

Jones walked a short distance away from the sober living home and Burnett followed closely behind. Surveillance cameras captured just portions of the fights between the two men, but it's clear that Burnett had his right hand in his pocket as he trailed Jones, prosecutors said.

After Burnett struck Jones repeatedly, Jones ran back to the house clutching his abdomen, and Hinojosa-Salazar called 911 to report that Jones had been stabbed multiple times. He and Huntington tried to stanch the bleeding with towels, but by the time Orange County sheriff's deputies arrived, prosecutors said, Jones was dead.

Burnett drove away from the scene but was arrested several hours later, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

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A forensic pathologist said that Jones died of massive blood loss from five stab wounds in the face, chest, abdomen and groin. One of the five pierced his heart.

Burnett's defense attorney, Lee Stonum of the Orange County Alternate Defender's Office, contended that his client acted in self-defense. But Orange County Deputy Dist. Atty. David Porter told jurors that between the two fights, Burnett decided to stab Jones, according to reporting from the Orange County Register.

"He wanted revenge," Porter told the jury. Burnett was convinced at the time that Jones raped his friend. "You just don’t stab someone five times in 15 seconds and have any other intent but to kill," Porter said.

Stonum told the jury in his closing arguments, "It was a senseless death over a truck and a set of lies."

Burnett's conviction included the special allegation that he used a knife during the killing, according to the Orange County district attorney's office. He is scheduled for sentencing on July 19.

Burnett plans to appeal the conviction.

"We respect the hard work the jury put into this case though we disagree with the outcome," Stonum said in an emailed statement to The Times.

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The members of the jury were unable to hear Burnett's interview with investigators after his arrest, Stonum said, where he "clearly articulated that he acted in self-defense and expressed acute and genuine remorse when he learned he had taken Mr. Mims’ life. We think it would have made the difference."

Burnett had been previously convicted in Los Angeles County in October 1993 of kidnapping and robbery, prosecutors said. The previous year, Burnett was stabbed multiple times and seriously wounded by a neighbor during an argument outside a Buena Park apartment complex.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.