MEDFORD, Ore. — The man accused of causing original Mouseketeer and Phoenix resident Dennis Day's death appeared in court today, marking his arraignment in the tangled case.
Officers from the Oregon State Police (OSP) arrested 36-year-old Daniel James Burda on Friday. According to family friend Sylvia McRae, Burda acted as a handyman for Day and his husband Ernie Caswell, doing work around the house for the two elderly men in exchange for housing.
Burda is a registered sex offender and has an extensive criminal record going back more than a decade that includes convictions for possession of meth, assault, and robbery.
On Monday, Burda was arraigned on twelve charges — Manslaughter in the Second Degree, Criminally Negligent Homicide, Criminal Mistreatment in the First Degree, Abuse of a Corpse in the Second Degree, six counts of Aggravated Identity Theft, Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card, and Theft in the Second Degree.
While more descriptive court documents pertaining to the investigation remain sealed, the charges allege that "on or about July 15" of last year, Burda caused Day's death through "neglect or maltreatment," then attempted to dispose of the body in some way.
A few days later, between July 20 and 22, the prosecution alleges Burda used Day's credit or debit cards and cash for a number of purchases.
Attending the court hearing remotely via video from the Jackson County Jail, Burda maintained that the litany of charges were "messed up," saying that the prosecution didn't have the evidence to prove it.
The judge frequently had to remind Burda that an arraignment hearing is only for setting bail conditions and appointing an attorney — not for arguing the evidence of the case. At times Burda seemed confused.
Burda's bail has been set at $150,000. The prosecutor claimed that Burda had told officers that, should he be released from jail, he would flee to Canada. Burda denied the statement, saying that he had a son in the Rogue Valley and he wasn't going to leave.
About a week prior to Burda's arrest, police arrested and charged two women with stealing the car that belonged to Day and Caswell. Between those charges and Burda's, the case that began as a missing person investigation nearly one year ago has at last seen rapid developments.
In April of 2019, detectives discovered human remains at the Day-Caswell home. Months later, at the beginning of June, investigators concluded that those remains belonged to Day.