Man sentenced to over four years in prison for death of original Mickey Mouse Club actor

MEDFORD, Oregon – A man accused in the death of Dennis Day, an original cast member on Walt Disney’s “Mickey Mouse Club” television series in the 1950s, has been sentenced to just over four years in prison after entering a modified guilty plea this week.

Daniel Burda, 41, pleaded no contest Monday to charges of involuntary manslaughter and desecration of a corpse. Burda was a caretaker who lived at Day’s Phoenix, Oregon, home, but Day, 76, had tried to evict him at the time he disappeared in mid-2018. A no contest plea is an admission that the state can prove criminal charges in court and has the same legal effect as a guilty plea.

Prosecutors said Burda caused Day’s death and then used Day’s identity to transfer money.

Day’s badly decomposed body was not discovered until nine months later under a pile of clothes in his home. His family has sued the Phoenix Police Department, saying that the family’s delay in discovering the deceased’s remains despite multiple visits to his home has caused emotional distress.

During a search, police stepped on Day’s body, causing fractures. Still, they did not find her until April 2019, when Oregon State Police arrived with a cadaver dog, the lawsuit says. The delay prevented the medical examiner from determining the cause of death, it said.

Police have denied the allegations. A hearing is scheduled for October in Jackson County District Court.

Burda’s criminal case was delayed for a long time because he was being evaluated at the Oregon State Hospital to determine his mental competency to defend himself, and because he had to face other legal challenges. While out of custody, he faced several other charges, court records show. He was also recently sentenced to two years in prison to be served separately in a burglary case – meaning he faces a total of just over six years.