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Trial for accused shooter of Richmond Officer Seara Burton pushed back nearly 2 months

Phillip M. Lee
Posted at 11:40 AM, Oct 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-03 12:04:42-04

RICHMOND — A trial for the man accused of shooting Richmond Police Officer Seara Burton has been pushed back nearly two months, court records show.

Phillip M. Lee is now scheduled to appear before a jury on Dec. 27 after his attorneys requested a continuance, to which prosecutors did not object.

Lee appeared for a pretrial conference Monday at Wayne Circuit Court, during which the request for a continuance was made. The next time he'll be in court ahead of his jury trial.

There was no murder charge filed against Lee as of early Monday despite Burton succumbing to her injuries on Sept. 18. She was shot in the line of duty on Aug. 10. Burton was nine days away from getting married to her fiancée at the time.

The Richmond Police Department has said that Burton and other officers were conducting a traffic stop on Lee — a known drug offender — when he opened fire on them. He narrowly avoided shooting a second officer and shot in the direction of a third, court documents allege.

Burton was placed on life support after the shooting. She was removed on Sept. 1 and then moved to a hospice facility, where she died, according to Richmond Police.

Hundreds gathered at Richmond High School to attend her funeral, which was held last week.

WRTV Investigates learned that Lee has an extensive criminal history dating back to 1994 and has served 20 years in state prison. He had just been released from prison on December 31, 2021 after serving 3.5 years in state prison on drug offenses.

Lee is charged with the following felonies stemming from the Aug. 10 encounter:

  • Attempted murder — three counts
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon
  • Possession of methamphetamine
  • Possession of cocaine
  • Possession of a narcotic drug

WRTV has asked Wayne County Prosecutor Michael Shipman's office when a murder charge could be filed against Lee. We are waiting to hear back.

Editor's note: Court dates, including jury trials, are subject to change. Phillip Lee's jury trial can be rescheduled after the publication of this article.