Minn. doctor pleads guilty to killing son, stabbing husband

By Ron Harris, The Associated Press
Saturday June 08, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO – A Minnesota doctor charged with stabbing her teen-age son to death represented herself in court Friday and pleaded guilty to first degree murder and attempted murder. 

Donna Anderson, 49, spoke directly to San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Mark Forcum in Redwood City. Earlier in the week he ruled she was entitled to represent herself in court. 

Anderson was accused of fatally stabbing her 13-year-old son, Stephen Burns, on Feb. 24 while he was visiting his father. She also was accused of stabbing her ex-husband, Frank Burns, in the leg as he tried to restrain her. She pleaded guilty to both counts and was scheduled to be sentenced July 5. 

Anderson, an obstetrician at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minn., explained to the judge Friday the series of events that day that led to the grisly stabbings. 

“I bought a knife at Albertson’s. I brought the knife into the house. I thought about some choices,” Anderson told the court. “But then I killed my son by stabbing him multiple times in the abdomen and he died. I used a knife to do that. I inflicted great bodily harm on him when I did that.” 

When the judge asked for her plea, Anderson replied calmly, “Guilty.” 

The prosecution has wrestled with the peculiar case from the beginning. Anderson had previously claimed a child pornography ring may have targeting her son and funding her defense against her will. 

She was able to convince the San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Mark Forcum to let her represent herself, a move that befuddled prosecutor Steve Wagstaffe, chief deputy district attorney. 

“It has never happened in San Mateo County that a defendant has represented himself, or herself, and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder,” Wagstaffe said