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Elliott man killed after putting baby into car was twice acquitted of murder

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Thursday, April 24, 2014, 9:30 a.m.

An Elliott man twice acquitted of murder was fatally shot on Thursday after he buckled his 20-month-old baby into a car on Marena Street, Pittsburgh police said.

Michael Burkes, 32, died on the porch of his home, police said. He appeared to be walking back to the house as he was preparing to take the baby to day care when the shooting occurred, Lt. Daniel Herrmann said. Burkes died of wounds in the head and torso, according to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office.

No shots hit Burkes' car, and the baby was not harmed, Herrmann said. The car was about 40 feet from where the shooting occurred.

Neighbors said they heard three gunshots between 6:30 and 7 a.m. Herrmann said the mother of the child had left for work. Burkes' relatives who gathered at the scene declined to comment.

Pittsburgh police arrested Burkes in March 2007 and charged him with the November 2000 murder of Sabrina Berry, 21, of the West End. Sherry Denson, 41, told police she and Burkes drove Berry to a wooded area in the South Side Slopes to kill her because she feared Berry would tell police about a credit card scheme. Denson pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, and a judge sentenced her to 10 to 40 years in prison.

A jury found Burkes not guilty of homicide in September 2007.

Police charged Burkes in May 2006 with fatally shooting Kenneth Edmonds, 22, of McDonald on March 7, 2003. He was found not guilty in that case, as well, according to online court records.

Burkes pleaded guilty in January 2003 to robbery, conspiracy, recklessly endangering another person, aggravated assault and carrying a gun without a license. A judge sentenced him to serve probation.

Herrmann said police are trying to determine a motive in the shooting.

“We know his past, and we're looking at everything,” Herrmann said.

Neighbors described Burkes as friendly and said he would often walk outside with his young son. The family moved in about a year ago.

“He was a hard-working guy, a family guy,” said Anthony Lozito, 34, of Elliott. “He was always in the yard playing with his kid.”

Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or




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