No Halfway House for Wife Charged in Fatal Shooting, D.C. Judge Rules

By Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The co-owner of a Southeast Washington tattoo parlor was ordered held in the District jail on Tuesday on charges of killing her husband by shooting him in the head and back.

Authorities charged Kristin Kozak-Burnett, 36, with second-degree murder in the Monday slaying of her husband, Michael Burnett, 56, inside their apartment over their Liquidity Jones tattoo parlor at 1503 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.

According to police, Kozak-Burnett called 911 after 6 p.m. Monday and told dispatchers that she had shot her husband. When D.C. police arrived, Kozak-Burnett met the officers and led them to an upstairs bedroom where they found her husband's body on the bed and a handgun next to him.

According to charging documents, Kozak-Burnett told police that she got the gun from a hall closet and shot her husband. She told police that her husband was not armed, nor was he trying to attack her at the time.

Standing before Magistrate Judge Andrea L. Harnett in court on Tuesday, the petite Kozak-Burnett, with both of her arms covered in black- and red-inked flower tattoos, shook uncontrollably as her attorney, Andrew Ferguson of the District's Public Defender Service, asked Harnett to have his client released to a halfway house. Harnett denied the request and ordered her held in jail.

Several of Burnett's relatives were in the courtroom, including his sister, niece and adult daughter from a previous relationship.

"She killed him in cold blood. Shot him in his back," said his niece Karen Johnson. She said the couple had been married for about two years.

According to court records, the couple had a violent and crime-plagued past involving drugs and domestic abuse.

In May 2008, Burnett was charged with simple assault after an altercation with his wife. A month later, he was ordered into drug counseling and ordered to stay away from his wife. In September 2008, a judge found Burnett not guilty of the misdemeanor offense.

Then in January 2009, Burnett was charged again with simple assault for making threats against his wife. At the time, Kozak-Burnett told police she was scared and that their fights would not end "until he kills her," according to court documents. The case was dismissed in March.

Since 2001, Burnett had been in out and out of jail for robbery and assault, including a 2008 fugitive robbery charge in Virginia.

Kozak-Burnett has also had her share of charges, including burglary and drug charges. In 2006, she was the key prosecution witness in the trial of the man who killed Eric N. Miler, a Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer from Fairfax County.

Kozak -- who was not married to Burnett at the time -- testified that she, Miller and Dana E. Moro were smoking crack in an Alexandria motel room in 2005 when Moro smashed Miller in the head with a lead pipe. Moro was sentenced to 33 years in prison for the killing.

Kozak-Burnett's next hearing was scheduled for Sept. 22 before Judge Frederick H. Weisberg.

Staff researcher Meg Smith also contributed to this story.

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