On Nov. 13, days before her trial was to begin, Peaches Burton accepted a plea deal for the 2010 murder of Patrick Michael Brady at the Omni Hotel in Old City.
Burton, 24, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, abuse of a corpse and arson. Common Pleas Court Judge Glenn Bronson sentenced her to 25-50 years in prison, a sentence agreed to by both defense and prosecution attorneys.
The sentence was broken down to include 20-40 years for the murder charge and five-10 years for the arson charge, to be served concurrently with one-two years for the abuse of corpse charge.
Other charges, including theft, receiving stolen property and causing catastrophe, were dropped as part of the plea agreement.
Defense attorney Michael Medway said he thinks the deal was fair on all sides, especially “when you consider this case started as a death-penalty case and we were able to — as a result of our investigation of [Burton’s legal name] Herman, [her] background and everything that led up to [her] getting arrested — convince the DA’s office to take death off the table.”
Assistant District Attorney Joanna Pescatore, who prosecuted the case, told PGN she was “absolutely” satisfied with the outcome.
Medway mentioned at last week’s sentencing hearing that Burton came from a very disadvantaged childhood and faced physical and sexual abuse.
Pescatore said Burton’s upbringing was evaluated as the plea deal was put together.
“A lot of things were taken into consideration, and that’s just one of them,” she said.
On Oct. 30, 2010, Burton was captured on video surveillance entering the hotel with Brady, 49, a married father from Chester County. Defense attorneys have said that Brady and Burton had a sexual relationship that lasted several months leading up to the killing.
It is unclear what transpired in the hotel room, but the Medical Examiner determined the cause of death to be strangulation and blunt-impact trauma. The victim had bruises on nearly all of his organs, as well as fractured ribs and larynx.
After the murder, prosecutors said Burton brought two other men into the room for sexual encounters and later attempted to set the room on fire to cover up the crime, which alerted fire authorities, who found the body.
Burton was arrested several days later, carrying some of Brady’s possessions.
Medway said Burton confessed to the crime, which the defense attempted unsuccessfully to have suppressed from the evidence.
Considering the case against Burton and the circumstances of the murder, Medway said the plea deal was a more viable option than a trial.
“I think there was a meeting of the minds that no one really wanted to open up the wounds this case had caused, as a result of the murder of the victim and the attempted burning of the body, everything that went with it,” he said. “I saw that as an opportunity to strike a negotiation with the DA’s office for a sentence that, I think, under the circumstances, is pretty reasonable.”
Also arrested was Richard Collins, who helped Burton attempt to move the body. Collins pleaded guilty to abuse of a corpse, theft and conspiracy and will be sentenced Dec. 6.