Plea agreement may put Carson man on probation

In a plea bargain that saved a Carson City man from a potential 50-year prison sentence, prosecutors recommended probation for the assailant in an Oct. 30 stabbing.

If Judge Michael Fondi follows the recommendation of prosecutors, John Sanford Burke, 33, will be set free after admitting guilt to one count of assault with a deadly weapon.

Burke was originally charged with attempted murder and battery with intent to kill after stabbing Carlos Rios-Burgara during an altercation near Burke's residence in the first block of Clear Creek Road.

The chest wound, which necessitated breathing tubes, put Rios-Burgara in the hospital for several days.

Allison Joffee, Burke's court-appointed lawyer, said she advised Burke to challenge the charges, saying the stabbing was self defense.

"This is not a case where my client went out with the intention of stabbing somebody," Joffee said.

Testimony at Burke's preliminary hearing in November suggested that Rios-Burgara was Burke's drug dealer and that he was attempting to assault Burke with a flashlight when the stabbing occurred.

Joffee said Burke offered to pay a drug debt to Rios-Burgara with a set of tires. While the two were discussing the transaction, she said, Rios-Burgara came after Burke.

When asked about his alleged ties to the local drug trade, Rios-Burgara opted several times to use the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. He recently served time for felony drug trafficking.

Under the original charges, Burke would have spent at least two years and as many as 50 years in state prison.

After Tuesday's arraignment, Burke was released without bail until his January sentencing. He told Fondi he would check into a drug treatment center in the interim.


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