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*As updates up to and including trial occur they will be posted here.
AMERICAN HERO SURVIVES WAR ONLY TO BE MURDERED AT HOME
2001 - September 11 - Cathy & Peter Stropas of Norristown, PA. have three sons.
Two of them, James and his brother John discuss the 911
terrorist attacks. James informs his brother that he's decided
to join the Army.
John Stropas "He said "As long as there’s Americans in Iraq, that’s where I belong.
He was brave. When 9/11 happened, he just joined. He didn't grow up
wanting to be in the Army. It just worked out that way."
2004 - Sgt James Stropas, Cavalry Scout, (a highly trained Unit) US ARMY is on
a tour of duty in Iraq when he is hit by an IED (improvised explosive device) and
injures his back. He is flown back on the line in two days.
John Stropas (brother) "He had all kinds of surgery and nerves cut. He worked his
butt off to get back in."
"An Army sergeant, he was a cavalry scout, “one of the most
highly trained units in the Army,”
James finds work as a security guard at King of Prussia Mall and at the Montgomery
Mall between this tour of duty and his second tour.
2010 - March - James Stropas (Sgt, US ARMY) returns home to Norristown from Iraq.
He's served 2 tours of duty, fought in battles and survived being
John Stropas "He had everything ready to go to college. Just telling me last week
how he was looking forward to go to college” for business management.
Management was where he was destined. I had no doubt he would have
2010 - June - James Stropas moves to Springfield to be with his girlfriend, who's going
through a divorce from her husband, Sean Burton. He's looking for work
in the area.
Unbeknownst to James Stropas, he's being stalked. A GPS device has
been placed under the frame of his white Jeep Cherokee vehicle.
Sean Burton, owner of Final Impact, a car-stereo and alarm installation
shop in Morton, isn't happy about his estranged, and soon to be ex-wife,
divorcing him, or her new boyfriend.
2010 - June 19 - Monday - James Stropas is on his way to the the Olde Sproul
Shopping Village on Baltimore Pike.
Sean Burton is using his laptop and a wireless Internet card to track
James Stropas through the GPS device he'd planted on the underside
of the Jeep Cherokee.
10:40 A.M. - Sean Burton accesses the GPS unit.
When James arrives at the shopping center, he parks in front of the
A FIGHT FOR LIFE - MURDER
10:50 A.M. - Sean Burton accosts James Stropas, jumping into his jeep, stabbing
and slashing James, who fights back. The attack on James is so
sudden, so violent, that the butcher knife Burton is using, breaks in
half. Blood is spattered inside and outside of the Jeep. Blood is
dripping from Burton's arms.
Heather Artis (Employee of Famous Footwear - located a few doors from Dunkin'
Doughnuts) "I was working in the store when a young boy entered the
shop around 10:50 A.M. followed by his mother an dfather. The woman
called out that two men were fighting in the parking lot and then called
911 on her cell phone. I looked outside and saw a white Jeep parked
a few doors away."
"As I'm looking out, I saw one person inside. I saw an up and down
motion...a stabbing motion. I locked thedoor to the store. The little
boy hid in the back and his parents and I looked out the front door.
As I looked over at the jeep I saw an arm hanging out of the passenger
side. Then I saw a person pull him back in the car. It was a tall black
man. I saw the jeep leave the parking lot and turn left onto Baltimore
Pike, heading for the Springfield Mall. Once the car pulled out of the
parking lot, you could see blood on the bottom panel of the Jeep."
"I could see a man's arm hanging out the side."
"There were others in the parking lot at the time of the stabbing."
Sean Burton drives off in James Stropas' Jeep Cherokee.
10:55 A.M. - Just minutes after the 911 dispatch receives a call about a stabbing, with a
description of the Jeep Cherokee, two Delaware county detectives, Detective
Fuss and Detective James Frey are in the area in an unmarked car. They
hear the police broadcast and a few seconds later they spot the vehicle
and engage in pursuit.
Detective Robert Fuss "Detective James Frey and I were in an unmarked car heading
east on Baltimore Pike near the Blue Route around 10:55 A.M.
when we heard a police broadcast about a white Jeep Cherokee
that had fled the scene of a stabbing.
Seconds later, I saw the Jeep headed in the opposite direction.
I made a U-turn and managed to get directly behind the Jeep at
a traffic light. When the Jeep turned into Smedley Park, I followed
then activated my lights and siren."
"After the Jeep cxrossed the trolley tracks in the park, the driver
pulled over to the side of the road. I jumped out and ordered the
driver out of the car. The driver, Burton, complied.
He was sweaty … and there was a blotch of blood on his forehead
near his hairline. When he put his hands up, I could tell both of
his forearms were dripping with blood. He was dressed in all black
and bleeding from his hands. He was ordered to the ground.
Detective Frey asked "Are there were any guns in the car?
Burton replied "Check with the other guy."
When I looked into the Jeep, I saw the victim slumped over
the center console. The driver's door was covered with blood.
Blood was splattered on the window. When I opened the
passenger side door, I found the victim with multiple stab
wounds to the back of his neck...and a large gash on his
neck. The victim's body had been wedged into the SUV,
his face and torso on the passenger-side floor and his legs
on the driver's seat
Burton mumbled "He came at me with a knife. I had to
I tried to find a pulse, but it was obvious the victim was not
alive. Paramedic Lisa Snokowski arrived moments later and
pronounced the victim dead.
I found a broken, 10 inch long butcher knife with a serrated edge."
Jeffrey Shull (Township Officer) asks Burton "Do you know the person in the vehicle?
Burton "Kind of. It's a long story,"
Burton is taken to Springfield Hospital and treated for cuts to his hands.
Police Chief Joe Daly "lauded all the witnesses who immediately contacted police after
the altercation erupted."
FAMILY WANTS JUSTICE
Peter Stropas (father) "It's hard because he just came home. He was involved with the
VA and was looking into picking up his life."
John Stropas "He was tough. I mean, my brother was a soldier. It just shocks me that
some guy got him. He seemed like the invincible one."
Stropas vehemently discounts Burton's "He came at me with a knife, I
had to protect myself."
“It really is absolutely mind-blowing. I can’t imagine some guy taking out
my brother. If my brother had the knife, we would be burying someone
different today. He was a self-defense expert; he was a security guard.”
If he was attacking this guy (Burton), there’s no way (Burton) would
have lived. He was used to combat, trained to attack anyone who
attacks (him) immediately. On the other hand, James was “not a
dangerous guy either. He was the best friend you would ever have.
I never knew him to have an enemy. Never knew him to lose his temper.”
John Stropas vows to be in court "I want to make sure justice is done."
"As an Army scout, James ran with 12 fellow soldiers and three Humvees.
He went to Iraq with 27 guys from his training group. Two guys were left,
I guess there's one now."
“I want to make sure people know he was a hero to everybody who knew him."
SEARCH OF VEHICLE - DISPOSAL ITEMS
Police search Burton's parked van at the shopping center.
Inside they find:
Change of clothes
Gallon of Gasoline
The seats are covered in plastic bags.
Search-warrant applications state that Burton had been using a laptop and a GPS unit he had attached to Stropas' truck to monitor his movements.
Search-warrant applications state that Burton had been using his laptop and a wireless Internet card to track Stropas through a GPS device planted on the underside of the Jeep Cherokee. A representative from the company that manufactures the device told an FBI computer-forensics expert that Burton had accessed it 10 minutes before Stropas was stabbed.
Detective Fuss "Investigators believe that Burton might have been planning to use those
items to dismember and dispose of Stropas' body."
Source "He came prepared to bury that guy, if not dismember him. This wasn't a
spontaneous rage. This was pre-planned."
The family was trying to find a uniform to bury James in.
His funeral was at St. Theresa of Avalon Church in Audubon..
James Stropas is survived by his parents, brotehrs, four nephews
and a maternal grandmother.
Sean Burton attends the arraignment in shackles and handcuffs, with heavy bandaging
on his right hand and arm.
2010 - July 1 - 9:30 A.M. - Springfield District Court - Magisterial District Judge
Anthony Scanlon presiding.
Burton is held for trial on charges of:
Receiving stolen property
Possession of an instrument of crime and related offenses.
Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Wills for the prosecution asked questions of
Heather Artis testified (tearfully) to what she saw occur.
A representative from the company that manufactures the GPS device.
FBI Computer Forensics expert
Mark Much (Attorney for Burton) Sean Burton, (6 feet 1 inch tall) sat and listened
to testimony with expression.
Mark Much "The case should be downgraded from first-degree murder.
Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Wills "The cause of death was multiple stab
and slash wounds."
Magisterial District Judge Anthony Scanlon "I would have to "divorce myself from
common sense" to find a lack of malice or intent to kill."
Sean Burton is held for trial on all charges without bail, and remanded to the county prison,
George W. Hill Correctional Facility.
FORMAL ARRAIGNMENT & CASE ASSIGNED TO JUDGE
2010 - July 26 - Sean Burton will be formally arraigned. Common Pleas Court, Judge
Barry C. Dozer presiding.