Torture victim can smile again
Receives $40,000 scholarship; suspect charged with hate crime
Tears trickled down the face of 23-year-old alleged torture victim Megan Williams on the Montel Williams show Thursday when she learned she would receive a two-year, $40,000 scholarship to ITT Technical Institute, a new computer and six months of tutoring to help her earn her General Equivalency Diploma (GED).
Williams also received good news when she learned that one of her attackers, Karen Burton, had pleaded guilty of a hate crime, kidnapping and malicious wounding.
Prosecutors said Williams was lured to a trailer in the Big Creek area of Logan County after meeting a man named Bobby Brewster, 24, on the internet. After accompanying Brewster to the trailer, Williams was held captive and tortured at the trailer for several days. Williams said she was forced to eat animal feces and was sexually assaulted and stabbed. Burton allegedly stabbed Williams in the ankle while saying, “This is what we do to n----- down here.”
An anonymous caller alerted deputies of Williams’ plight. Deputies rescued Williams on Sept. 8.
Burton faces up to 30 years in prison at sentencing, set for March 3. Logan County Prosecuting attorney Brian Abraham said he agreed to dismiss a kidnapping count that carries a maximum life sentence. Three others were indicted on counts including kidnapping, sexual assault and conspiracy.
The state hate crime count against Burton is the first one legal scholars can remember being prosecuted in West Virginia.
Burton’s lawyer, Betty Gregory, said that Burton’s childhood was marred by physical and sexual abuse. Gregory said that when Burton was 7-years-old, she was abused and left in an open grave.
“It does not excuse the attack on Williams,” Gregory said. “And it’s not that she didn’t do the acts, but at some point she had been victimized so many times in her life, and she felt helpless and gave up and joined in,” Gregory told news reporters.
Burton’s daughter, 23-year-old Alisha Burton, and 27-year-old George A. Messer pleaded guilty last week to kidnapping and assault and received 10-year prison sentences.
Felony charges including kidnapping, sexual assault and conspiracy are pending against Bobby Brewster, 24; his mother, Frankie Brewster, 49, of Big Creek; and Danny Combs, 20, of Harts. According to authorities, a seventh defendant was indicted this week on a misdemeanor battery charge.