Burton Sentenced To 30 Years For 2012 Murder

Burton Sentenced To 30 Years For 2012 Murder

BERLIN — A Delaware man charged with the murder and rape of a woman in June 2012 unexpectedly pleaded guilty this week and was sentenced to a combined 30 years in prison.

Matthew W. Burton, now 33, of Dagsboro, Delaware, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and second-degree rape for the death of Nicole Bennett, 35, of Millsboro in June 2012. Burton was sentenced to 40 years for a murder conviction with all but 15 years suspended and 25 years for the rape conviction with all but 15 years suspended, resulting in 30 years of total jail time, although he was given credit for time spent in incarceration in the nearly five years since the crime.

Shortly after 9 a.m. on June 15, 2012, Worcester Central received a 911 call reporting the discovery of the body of a deceased woman later identified as Bennett in an embankment off Swamp Rd., a dirt road in Whaleyville. Detectives used DNA evidence collected at the scene to connect Burton to the crime. Burton, a registered Tier I sex offender in Delaware, worked as a custodian at the Bayshore Community Church in Millsboro, where Bennett also worked and was last seen alive the night before her body was discovered along a rural road in Worcester County.

After consulting with the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office, detectives were able to obtain a warrant for Bennett and the U.S. Marshals Task Force located the suspect nearly two weeks later driving on Route 1 near Rehoboth and took him into custody.

Burton was charged initially with first-degree murder and first-degree rape in Worcester because the victim was found along a rural road in the county. However, he was later charged in Sussex County after investigators determined the crime actually occurred in Delaware and Bennett’s body was merely dumped in Worcester.

Burton’s case bounced back and forth from Delaware to Worcester County and back again during the nearly five years since the crime. Burton initially fought extradition to Worcester County to face murder and rape charges for Bennett’s death, but was ultimately transferred and indicted by the Worcester grand jury.

Worcester prosecutors offered Burton a plea deal that would result in consecutive sentences of life without parole for murder and rape, but Burton declined. Delaware then indicted Burton after new evidence suggested the crime took place in Sussex and the victim’s body was merely dumped in Worcester, and prosecutors in Delaware said they would seek the death penalty in the case.  Burton then began his lengthy battle to avoid extradition to Sussex.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.