Accused Murderer Extradition Delayed

SNOW HILL — The first-degree murder case against Matthew Burton was moved from Maryland to Delaware in August but the accused killer remains behind bars in Worcester County this week after another extradition hearing in Snow Hill last Friday.
Burton was indicted by a Worcester County grand jury on first-degree murder and first-degree rape charges for the death of a Delaware woman whose body was found on a roadside embankment near Whaleyville in June 2012. However, in August, Delaware State Police announced they were charging Burton on first-degree murder and first-degree rape charges after evidence discovered during a thorough investigation indicated the crime was committed in the First State.
As a result, the case against Burton in Worcester was dropped and he was formally indicted on the same charges in Delaware. However, Burton remains in custody in the Worcester County Jail this week after another extradition hearing last Friday. Burton is fighting extradition to Delaware and last Friday filed a motion for an immediate stay of the extradition warrant.
On Tuesday, District Court Judge Lloyd Whitehead ordered that the extradition of Burton be stayed until Nov. 8, during which time Burton may file for a writ of habeas corpus. In short, Burton will remain in the Worcester County Jail for another week at the earliest.
Burton is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree rape in the death of Nicole Bennett, 35, of Millsboro, whose body was found on a roadside embankment near Whaleyville in northern Worcester County on June 15, 2012. Burton, a registered Tier I sex offender in Delaware, worked as a custodian in the church where the victim also worked and where she was last seen the night before her body was discovered.
Shortly before 9 a.m. on June 15, Worcester Central received a 911 call reporting the discovery of a body of a deceased woman on an embankment off Swamp Rd., a dirt road east of Nelson Rd. near Whaleyville. DNA evidence gathered by crime scene technicians from the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division ultimately connected Burton to the crime.
After the investigation and DNA evidence connected Burton to Bennett’s murder, detectives consulted with the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office and a warrant for his arrest was obtained. Around 7:15 p.m. on July 7, the U.S. Marshal’s Task Force, a warrant apprehension team, located Burton driving on Route 1 near Rehoboth Beach. Burton was apprehended on a subsequent traffic stop and was taken into custody.
Ironically, Burton fought his extradition to Worcester County to face murder charges and was eventually transferred after several hearings that summer. Over a year later, he is now fighting extradition back to Sussex.
Meanwhile, there was also some activity this week in a wrongful death civil suit in Delaware filed by Bennett’s family against the Bay Shore Church in Millsboro where she and Burton both worked and its pastor, Danny Tice. According to the suit filed in April by Bennett family attorney Bart Dalton, Tice and church officials should be held partly responsible for Nicole Bennett’s death because they were aware of Burton’s violent past and allowed him to continue to work at the church including the night of June 14, 2012, when he was left alone with Bennett.
This week, a judge ruled against a motion to dismiss the case filed by the defendants, Bay Shore Church and Tice, allowing it to proceed.
“The case is still very much active,” said Dalton. “The judge denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss. The defendants attempted to appeal that ruling to the Supreme Court, but that too was denied. The case now moves forward in the Superior Court.”