Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Maria Elena Burgos Acquitted of Murdering Her Attacker, Earnestine Herron

Posted By on Tue, Aug 28, 2012 at 1:26 PM

click to enlarge Maria can now go back to that scary apartment complex
  • Maria can now go back to that scary apartment complex

A San Francisco mother who stabbed another woman to death last year has been cleared of murder charges after the jury concluded she was acting in self-defense.

Last year, we reported on 49-year-old Maria Elena Burgos, who was arrested after she fatally stabbed 26-year-old Earnestine "Buttercup" Herron in the neck as the two argued at the crime-ridden Potrero Terrace housing projects where they both lived.

According to the Public Defender's Office, Burgos and her teenage daughter had lived in a domestic violence shelter for victims before reluctantly moving into the housing projects three months before the March 28, 2011, slaying. They were only allowed to stay at the DV shelter as long as they accepted any housing offer that came along -- whether they wanted it or not, said Burgos' attorney, Deputy Public Defender Danielle Harris.

After moving into the housing projects, Burgos, a housekeeper and home health care aide, became a target of harassment, in part because she was the new kid on the block. Herron, a crack addict reportedly known for stealing and getting into fights, began regularly following and intimidating Burgos, Harris said.

But that all came to an end when Herron assaulted and robbed Burgos, who was later warned by a neighbor not to call police or things would get worse for her and her daughter. Burgos reportedly spent the next three days locked up in her apartment, afraid to leave.

After a few days, Burgos worked up a little courage to

go outside and get some fresh air. Still fearing her safety, she grabbed a kitchen knife before leaving the apartment.

As she was sitting outside, Herron approached,

and Burgos asked for her money back. Herron punched her in the face, knocking her onto her

back with her legs dangling over a retaining wall, witnesses told

police. Standing between Burgos' legs, Herron hit her in the face five more times -- at least -- before Burgos, whose eyes were closed, pierced Herron's neck with the knife, attorneys said.

"Ms. Burgos thought she was going to be killed -- and she might have been if she hadn't had that knife," Harris said.  

After stabbing Herron, Burgos ran into her apartment and hid in her bedroom, where she was arrested 15 minutes later.


interviews with police and on the stand, Burgos talked about she lived in

fear of Herron and felt helpless after warnings that "snitches" and

their families faced violent retribution in Potrero Terrace.


the nine-day trial, the San Francisco Medical Examiner's chief

toxicologist also testified that during the deadly confrontation, Herron was on crack, which, as everyone knows, can make you stronger and angrier.

After viewing photos of Burgos' bruised and swollen face, the jury decided she had committed no crime -- not even second degree murder or manslaughter. Burgos, who has been in jail since her arrest, will get to go home today.

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , ,

About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"