MODEST0 -- A judge on Thursday refused to postpone a trial scheduled to start Dec. 4 for a real estate agent accused of swindling a Newman family out of its home more than 10 years ago.
Erica Burdg, 61, of Modesto has been charged with grand theft, forgery and attempted perjury. She is accused of taking money from Carlos Gonzales' family, which believed it was buying a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Newman.
Burdg has testified that Gonzales' bad credit and lack of employment collapsed the deal to buy the home. She instead talked her husband into buying the house as an investment and they rented the home to the family.
Burdg's first trial ended with a hung jury 15 months ago. Since then, attempts by the court to proceed to a second trial have stalled.
In late January, authorities apprehended her in Oregon and returned her to Stanislaus County after she failed to appear for several court hearings.
Burdg then was released from custody on bail and has asked the judge for more time to hire a private attorney. She appeared with her newly hired defense attorney, Berndt Brauer, in court Thursday morning.
Brauer told the judge he is starting another trial in a double homicide case Tuesday, so he won't be available to start Burdg's trial in December. Brauer then asked the judge to delay the trial.
Deputy District Attorney W.R. McKenzie argued against the postponement, saying the case has gone on for nearly four years.
"This is another instance by Ms. Burdg to delay this trial," McKenzie told the judge.
Michael Linn, an attorney representing the Gonzales family in its civil case, has continuously objected in court to the delays in Burdg's criminal case.
McKenzie told the judge Thursday that Burdg told Linn, "This will go to trial when you grow feathers," after a hearing in the criminal case last month.
Donnell Snipes was the deputy public defender who represented Burdg in court when she asked the judge for more time to hire a private attorney. He told the judge Thursday that it was not a delaying tactic and that Burdg tried to retain other private attorneys before Brauer but was unsuccessful.
Superior Court Judge Linda McFadden said Thursday she didn't hear any good reasons to delay the trial. She said the defendant has had more than six months since authorities returned her from Oregon and more than a year since her first trial ended, which is enough time to hire an attorney.
The judge said she has consistently told Burdg she needed to find an attorney who could start the trial in December.
McFadden scheduled the defendant to return to court Nov. 16, when Brauer will tell the court whether he can be available in December. If not, the judge could order the public defender to represent Burdg.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2394.