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Woman kills robber

November 28, 2007 |  8:07 am



Nov. 28, 1957
Los Angeles

The last bad decision in James B. Burton's 42 years of bad decisions was to light a cigarette.

Because to light the cigarette, he had to put down his gun. 

Of course he had been drinking, which is not necessarily a bad decision, but it is a poor choice if you've taken a woman and her teenage daughter hostage and are threatening to kill them as you wait for the husband to get home so you can rob him.

1957_1128_perri_3 Maybe Burton didn't think he needed to worry because Zenobia Maddox, 32,  and her daughter Tony, 15, were tied up. And because his partner was outside the home at 4715 S. Gramercy Place waiting to ambush Thomas Maddox, a real estate agent.

James Bedford Burton was an old, seasoned criminal who had served time in Kentucky, Nevada, Utah and California and had a record going back to 1935. He and his partner forced their way into the Maddox home by trying to collect on what they said was a bad check.

The men tied up the two women and while his partner waited outside, Burton ransacked the home, threatening to kill the family if they didn't find any money. As he rummaged through the house, he drank from a liquor bottle and continued threatening the Maddoxes.

In the meantime, Zenobia managed to work free of her restraints and when Burton put down the gun to light a cigarette, she grabbed the pistol.

Burton told her that the gun wasn't loaded, but she proved him wrong--five times.

Then she got a lamp and beat him with it.

Then she got another lamp and beat him with it.

Then she got a third lamp and beat him with it.

After being shot five times and beaten with three different lamps, James Bedford Burton was not feeling too well. In fact, he was pretty much dead. And his partner was long gone, having run off when he heard the gunshots.

Zenobia A. Maddox died May 6, 2002, according to the Social Security Death Index. Nice work, ma'am.

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