Lily Burk's Killer Pleads Guilty, Avoids Death Sentence

An ex-con pleaded guilty this afternoon to the murder of Lily Burk, a 17-year-old Los Feliz girl who was kidnapped and later killed inside her car near downtown Los Angeles.

Lily Burk's Killer Pleads Guilty, Avoids Death Sentence
Lily Burk

Charlie Samuel, 50, avoided the death penalty by pleading to the July 24, 2009 slaying. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Samuel, a transient with a history of crimes, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, kidnapping to commit robbery, second-degree robbery, attempted first-degree ATM robbery, carjacking and kidnapping for carjacking. He also admitted special circumstance allegations of murder during a carjacking, murder during a kidnapping and murder during a robbery.

Burk, a national merit scholar who attended North Hollywood's Oakwood School, was abducted near Wilshire Boulevard and Wilshire Place as she was getting into her black Volvo S40 after she picked up exam papers for her law professor mother at Southwestern University School of Law on the afternoon of July 24. He forced her to drive downtown to a Union Bank ATM machine near Little Tokyo. After failed attempts to withdraw cash from an automated teller machine with a credit card, he drove her to a secluded parking lot and killed her.

Her body was found in the front passenger seat of her Volvo in a parking garage on Alameda Street the day after she disappeared. She died from a fatal wound to her neck. The coroner also found several contusions on her back and legs, and bite marks on the left side of her face and left ear.

Police picked up Samuel for drinking in public near Skid Row just hours after he killed the 5 foot 2 Burk. The parolee was staying at a residential drug treatment center south of Koreatown. He was given permission to leave the treatment center on July 24 so that he could visit a Department of Motor Vehicles office, even though the office was closed.

Samuel is expected to be sentenced this afternoon.

Burk's father, Greg, is a well known Los Angeles journalist and a former music writer at the LA Weekly.

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