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June 8, 2006

Jacksonville man pleads guilty to murder

From: Springfield State Journal Register, IL - Jun 8, 2006


Published Thursday, June 08, 2006

JACKSONVILLE - A Jacksonville man pleaded guilty Wednesday to murdering his former girlfriend and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Aaron Winfert, 26, entered the guilty plea through his attorney, Morgan County public defender Tom Piper, and an interpreter for the deaf.

Winfert admitted he killed Amber Burroughs, 26, who also was deaf.

The negotiated plea was worked out by Piper and Morgan County State's Attorney Chris Reif.

Circuit Judge Richard Mitchell imposed the sentence. Because of truth-in-sentencing guidelines, Winfert must serve all of it.

Burroughs was found dead in her home in the 500 block of Stratford Lane in the Northwood Mobile Home Park at 8:30 a.m. March 22. Winfert was arrested on other charges two days later at the residence of a sister in Chicago.

Through an interpreter, Winfert said, "I plead guilty" when asked if he understood the charges and the plea agreement. Otherwise, he showed little emotion.

Reif said evidence would show that Winfert, who had been released from jail after serving a sentence for burglary the day before the incident, entered the home the couple had shared, even though Burroughs had obtained an order of protection against him.

"He broke into the residence, a struggle ensued, and he suffocated her," Reif said. "An autopsy showed he placed a piece of clothing into her airway, causing her death."

Reif said Winfert admitted the crime when questioned by police officers.

Winfert reportedly is the father of the victim's two children, ages 7 and 4. The children found their mother dead in their home and went to a neighbor for help. Reif said the children did not witness the killing. They have been staying with relatives since their mother's death.

During Wednesday's proceedings, Winfert, who has a long criminal record, also was sentenced to three years' imprisonment for theft, five years for forgery and 364 days for resisting a police officer, on charges filed prior to the murder charge. Those sentences will be served concurrently with the 30-year murder sentence.

Both Winfert and the victim attended Illinois School for the Deaf in the 1990s.

Buford Green can be reached at 245-6023 or

© 2006 The State Journal-Register