John Christopher Burns
John Christopher Burns. Photo credit: Escondido Police Department

A homeless man was convicted of second-degree murder Monday for fatally stabbing a fellow transient outside an Escondido fast-food restaurant.

John Christopher Burns, 49, faces up to 36 years to life in state prison when he is sentenced March 29 next year for the Jan. 27, 2020, killing of Jose De Jesus Martinez.

The 32-year-old victim was stabbed in the neck shortly before 6:30 p.m. outside the Burger King on West Valley Parkway.

According to preliminary hearing testimony, witnesses said Burns made statements indicating he believed the victim was trying to steal his bicycle, which had been left outside the restaurant.

Martinez was taken to Palomar Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Burns was arrested the following day by San Diego County sheriff’s deputies at the Pala Casino.