Sentence upheld: Decades-long sentence for Burham stands in wake of Friday argument

Michael Burham was sentenced to over 25 to 50 years in state prison on kidnaping, escape and related charges last month.

That sentence stands in the wake of a Friday argument.

A motion to reconsider the sentence – the first step in the appeal process – was argued before Judge Gregory Hammond on Friday.

Burham, a person of interest in a Chautauqua County homicide, staked out the residence of a Sheffield couple for a week before taking them hostage, fleeing law enforcement all the way to South Carolina. He was picked up there and brought back to the Warren County Jail.

He proceeded to escape from the jail, the start of a 10-day manhunt that brought the county national and international media attention.

Burham was not in the courtroom on Friday. He’s being held at SCI Dallas in Luzerne County.

His attorney, Chief Public Defender Kord Kinney, simply said that the motion to reconsider “speaks for itself.”

Both Warren County District Attorney Rob Greene and Senior Deputy Attorney General Evan Lowry said that Hammond imposed an appropriate sentence.

“The record speaks for itself,” Lowry added.

Hammond said that the motion accused the court of abusing its discretion in imposing the sentence but he said in court Friday that he placed the reasons for the maximum sentence at some charges on the record.

He cited the “ongoing permanent, devastating impact” on the kidnapping victims as a “primary factor” for imposing the maximum there.

Hammond said he could not ignore when someone is willing to take someone else on an “18-hour nightmare ride.”

Specifically on the escape and manhunt, “just about everybody in the community was impacted in different ways,” Hammond said.

He also cited Burham’s long-term rehabilitation needs “if that can (ever) be accomplished,” saying that he “believes the state sentence is appropriate” in denying the motion.


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