Pokémon cards, especially rare first editions like the ever-popular Charizard, fetch a hefty price in the trading card community, and the condition of the card can up or lower its value by thousands of dollars. In this vein, collectors tend to keep their prized decks in protective casings and under lock and key.
On December 22nd, one Salisbury, Maryland collector took protecting his deck too far when he assaulted his five year old nephew after finding the young boy fiddling with a few cards in his collection. According to police, Burford struck the child in the stomach hard enough to fling the boy against a nearby wall. Someone else in the household, of which both Burford and the minor were both residents, called the police after the incident. Burford was arrested and charged with second-degree child abuse, a felony in the state, and second-degree assault, a misdemeanor in the state.
News outlets originally reported that the man was being held on a $20,000 bond, but shortly after the story broke a local judge released Burford on Personal Recognizance, which is basically fancy-talk for allowing a person charged with a crime to return to normal activities (and possibly their home) after signing a written promise to appear in court as needed in the future. No payment of the bond required. However, this type of release usually comes with a pretty solid list of stipulations, including curfews and restrictions on activities, and any deviation from these stipulations results in police custody. So far, there’s no information on what is expected of Burford or if he’s been allowed back into the home that he shared with the victim.
According to court documents, Burford has had a public defender assigned to his case and the preliminary hearing is scheduled for January 21. And apparently, this won’t be his first time in court for issues relating to domestic violence and assault. Wicomico County District Court records show multiple closed cases involving aggressive behavior, starting with a 2006 case involving domestic violence that was dismissed due to both parties failing to show on the court date.
The most recent round of incidents occurred in March 2011, when he was charged with malicious destruction of personal property valued at $500 or less, for which he received a judgement of acquittal, and charges of domestic violence, where he was ordered to vacate the home he was living in, surrender all firearms, and cease all contact with the individual involved.
As far as the victim of the crime, little is known about the boy. According to police, the child did not receive medical treatment and did not have any visible marks on him when the police arrived on the scene – however, bruising does take time to develop. As of today, there’s no word on the child’s current condition.
Pokémon cards are well-known for their fantastic artwork, lovable characters and catchy use of colors, all of which can mask their value to the inexperienced eye. Sadly Burford, at 29 years old, likely first came into contact with the cards shortly after their release by Wizards of the Coast in 1998, when Burford was around 12 years old. If he, at 12, couldn’t resist the cards and falling in love with the Pokemon world, it’s not difficult to imagine a younger child would be able to turn away, either.