Reading, Mass. Murder Suspect Arraigned

(NECN: Eileen Curran, Reading, Mass.) - John Burke had no comment as he walked into Woburn District Court.

The 25-year-old Revere man is charged with first degree murder in the death of 22-year-old Joseph Ronan.

Ronan was found shot to death in his Reading, Mass. home a week ago.

Burke covered his face in the courtroom with a t-shirt that he stretched over his head.

Prosecutor Beth Dunighan told the court Ronan was home with his grandfather the day of his murder. He told his grandfather he would get him lunch, but to stay in his room until he came back. About 1:00 p.m., the grandfather heard gun shots and went out to find his grandson shot on the couch.

Dunighan said an important piece of evidence was found with Ronan.

“At the feet of Joe Ronan, your honor, was a cell phone that belonged to him,” said Dunighan.

Police were able to place Burke at the scene of the murder through text messages between him and Ronan in the hour before the murder.

At 12:48pm Burke asked, “Who’s car is that?” Ronan responded, “It’s my mom’s.”

At 12:53pm Ronan sent Burke the message, “My grandfather home but in room.”

Two minutes later, at 12:55pm, Ronan asked Burke, “What’s the deal guy?”

Burke told police he went to Ronan's home that day to buy two Percocet pills, but left by 12:30 p.m.

He pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and unlicensed possession of a firearm. The defense is claiming that the state does not have enough evidence against Burke.

“(In) my experience when there is a murder allegation against a defendant, often times there’s a lot more evidence than there appears to be in this case,” said Timothy Flaherty.  “We’ll see how it evolves. My client plans to present a vigorous defense.”

Burke will be held without bail and will be back in court on Sept. 23.

Ronan’s family was in court for the arraignment, but left without commenting.

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