After 2 mistrials, Newport News man found guilty in 2016 shooting death of 70-year-old man

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Posted at 7:35 PM, Dec 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-18 21:27:40-05

HAMPTON, Va. - After two mistrials, a Hampton jury convicted a Newport News man of murder Thursday for killing 70-year-old Donald Burrell in October 2016.

A Hampton jury found 35-year-old Joel Aaron Burrell guilty of second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony on Thursday, according to online judicial records. The Hampton Circuit Court clerk's office confirmed the guilty verdict to News 3.

On October 9, 2016, police received a call in reference to an unresponsive man in a house on Somerville Drive. When officers arrived on scene, they found the elderly man, who had been shot several times.

Police say Donald Burrell lived there and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Joel Burrell's first trial for second-degree murder was ruled a mistrial on September 11, 2018, according to online judicial records. Prosecutors filed charges again the same day. Months later, his second trial was ruled a mistrial on March 18, 2019, records show. Again, prosecutors refiled charges the same day.

A third murder trial began on Monday, and a guilty verdict was reached on Thursday, December 17, court records show.

One additional firearms offense is still pending. That charge, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, is scheduled for a status hearing on February 25, 2022, in Hampton Circuit Court. Burrell's sentencing is also scheduled for that date.

News 3 reached out to an attorney listed for Joel Burrell seeking comment on the verdict. Nicholas R. Hobbs told us the verdict did not come down until 8 p.m. Thursday and said they would note an appeal immediately after the sentencing in February.