John Christopher Burns
John Christopher Burns. Photo credit: Escondido Police Department

A transient who was convicted of fatally stabbing a man outside an Escondido fast-food restaurant was sentenced Monday to 35 years to life in state prison.

John Christopher Burns, 50, was found guilty of second-degree murder by a Vista jury last year for the Jan. 27, 2020, killing of Jose De Jesus Martinez.

The 32-year-old victim was stabbed in the neck shortly before 6:30 p.m. outside the Burger King on West Valley Parkway.

According to testimony, witnesses said Burns made statements indicating he believed the victim was trying to steal his bicycle, which had been left outside the restaurant.

Martinez was taken to Palomar Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Burns was arrested the following day by San Diego County sheriff’s deputies at the Pala Casino.

Though the second-degree murder count carries a term of 15 years to life, Burns had a serious felony prior conviction of assault resulting in great bodily injury, which increased his term to the 35 to life sentence, according to Deputy District Attorney Drew Garrison.

City News Service contributed to this article.


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Ellen Bullock