June 1998

Elliott  Burick, Appointed Attorney



Refused to tell the judge that Jason wanted to file a Marsden motion. Also he did not prepare his case prior to the beginning of the trial because of the tremendous workload assigned him. When he eventually told the judge (about the motion) he did not prepare Jason about having to speak in court and it caught Jason unprepared. When he was asked by the judge ‘on what grounds do you want to have counsel replaced?’ Jason was perplexed and overwhelmed by the proceedings but did state to the judge that Burick was not doing his job in representing him. The line of interrogation from the judge then turned augmentative, confrontational, and biased and intimidating toward Jason and sitting in the courtroom I felt overwhelmed also and knew all that we could do is pray for God’s intervention. It was completely out of our control not being able to spend  $40 K + for an experienced criminal attorney.

This was Burrrcks first criminal case and he was a civil lawyer prior to this. He was new to Shasta County and needed to break into the “group.” The logical conclusion of any one not totally bias in this case is to see that Burrick attempted to appease the local people in power by serving up Jason Powers’ head on a platter to the prosecuting attorneys. Even them, when spoken too off the record, will admit to Burrick’s inept bumbling and out right confusion at times in open court. 

IF this was not done on purpose, his actions indicated major confusion and unresolved conflict in his personal life that resulted in his inability to concentrate in the courtroom. The private investigator Jason Powers’ parents hired told them that he was indeed going through “a messy divorce”. He seemed irrational at times- yelling and cursing at Jason when Jason would not accept the plea bargain that the prosecutors offered during pre-trial. This was not a modified agreement, but the full term of 16 years without dropping any of the inflated charges.  Burrick had minimal contact with Jason during pre-trial and would not be available for phone contact often. 

When addressing the open court he was visibly shaking and stammering. He could not remember names and refused to present evidence that was not only accurate but would have changed the outcome of the trial.


When offered a list of facts that were relevant to a particular witness, he refused them. When offered notes with complete thoughts about what could be presented, he rejected them with the statement “ I do better without a script.” He ignored and even crumpled them up and discarded them in open court. These notes were for information and were meant to aid him in understanding just what the witness had seen or were privy to. These were pertinent facts compiled by the family and the private investigator that was hired by them because there were “no available funds from the law office to hire an investigator” said Burick in conversation with James Powers.


Burick failed to utilize the testimony Melinda Sukama’s drug supplier when he took the stand. He was prepared to testify that not only was she a regular intravenous drug user; but in conversation with him and his wife Malinda stated “I should have shot him in the fuckin’ head while I had the chance.”

She was speaking of the night Jason was trying to get out of the house after a night of drunken extramarital sex that was followed by a major confrontation between the two parties after the full effects of drugs and alcohol turned sour. And she was attempting to steal money from his unworn trousers.

Not only did Burick NOT get this crucial statement as evidence during testimony he aided and allowed the witness to be badgered and belittled. Both during his testimony and later by not challenging the prosecutors closing arguments. 

Concerning “Crime Scene”

After the doctored pictures of the hallway of Sakuma’s house were explained to an eyewitness – Carrie Abbott. Burrick refused to re-call her to the stand OR even show her the pictures that were shown in court to see if there were any changes in the hallway of Sakuma’s house. If he would have, the altering of the crime scene from when she had seen it the day after the incident compared to when the investigators finally bumbled onto the house would have been obvious. Abbott told Burrick face to face that the according to the description 

Lynda and James Powers gave her in the court hallway “It was obvious that the interior of the house, particularly the hallway, had been altered”. James Powers asked Carrie if she would sign a notarized statement of these facts and swear to their truthfulness and she said she would. “I saw what I saw and nothing can change that” was an additional comment that day. Burick rejected this as not important and refused to mention this court to the jury that would decide this case.

The house should not have been used as evidence since it had been entered and altered by people in this neighborhood (Bob Eberly and Dennis Frost) that openly displayed contempt for and dislike of Jason as he had exposed them as complete liars and fools many times.


A convicted felon, who was Sakuma’s latest fling, was asked by Sakuma to go to her house to retrieve her guns: removal of evidence from a crime scene. This too was not developed to expose the utter lack of consistency that led to a prejudicial court trial.

The time frame between incident and official investigation spanned three days. During that time the local Sheriff, Dennis Carroll, passed the house many times and visited the Frost’s residence that adjoins Sakuma’s and is within 60 feet (approx.) of her front door. Carroll was a prosecution witness that was less than candid on the stand. He did not mention that Jason had called and spoke to him concerning surrendering to clear this matter up. Carroll had apparently developed a relationship with the Eberly’s and Frost’s as was evidenced by more frequent visits to their residences during this time frame. This too was not developed to indicate the facts pertinent to the truth of this matter, as a capable attorney, one who was truly representing your interest’s, would have brought to light.


R. James Powers and Lynda F. Powers


Judicial Terror in Shasta County

Three Strikes Legal - Index