Son pleads guilty to murdering Father’s girlfriend

Marquail Burney pleaded guilty on August 19, 2019 to murdering his father's girlfriend. (Photo: Bladen County Sheriff's Office)

ELIZABETHTOWN, NC (WWAY) — A Bladenboro man pleaded guilty in Bladen County Superior Court Monday morning to murdering his father’s girlfriend.

Marquail Burney, 25, has been sentenced to up to 38 years in prison after pleading guilty to second degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon and felony larceny.

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According to a press release, on October 13, 2015 Burney’s father, David Burney, called the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office and said his girlfriend, Crystal Cruz, was missing.

Investigators say Cruz lived with her boyfriend, David Burney. David Burney reported Cruz missing around 11:37 p.m. He told officers he came home from work that evening and thought she was in the bedroom asleep, but when he went to check on her he could not find her.

David Burney later found blood stained items including Cruz’s cell phone in a utility building on the property and confronted his son about it.

Marquail Burney ran from home.

After a short search, deputies found Cruz’s body in the trunk of a vehicle near the home. She had been shot in the cheek, chest, arms, and legs and was pronounced dead on the scene.

Authorities say during their investigation, they were informed that a Honda Odyssey had been reported stolen.

The van was found in the parking lot of a Lumberton Walmart.

Deputies were able to arrest Marquail Burney and transport him to the Bladen County Jail.

In a subsequent interrogation, Marquail Burney acknowledged he was responsible for Cruz’s death telling investigators that he was unhappy with her and shot her multiple times.

According to the press release, Marquail Burney was initially declared incapable of standing trial due to lack of mental capacity. After an extended in-patient treatment at Central Regional Hospital, Burney’s capacity was restored and the criminal case continued.

Burney received a sentence of 300-372 months on the second degree murder
conviction and an additional 64-89 month sentence for the robbery of Cruz’s cell phone
and larceny of the van. The two sentences will be served consecutively. Burney will serve a minimum of 30.3 years and a maximum of 38.4 years in state prison.