Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lauren Burk

OPELIKA, Ala. — An Iraq War veteran accused of killing an Auburn University freshman was found with the victim's iPod when police caught up to him after a high speed chase, during which he threw a gun out the window of his car, witnesses testified Monday.

Courtney Lockhart, 26, is in the second week of his trial on capital murder in the 2008 shooting death of 18-year-old Lauren Burk. Her sister, Jaklyn Semones, tearfully testified that the iPod found on Lockhart when he was arrested was a Christmas gift she had given her sister in 2006.

Defense attorneys say Lockhart was mentally troubled when he returned home to Smith's Station from Iraq and he has pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. If convicted, Lockhart could face the death penalty.

A week after Burk's kidnapping and killing, Lockhart led Phenix City police on a chase for two or three miles before colliding with a police motorcycle. Police chased him on foot into the woods and when he was being led out, he apologized, saying he "tried to get help" after returning home from Iraq, Officer Darryl Williams testified. Lockhart did not say what he was specifically sorry about.

Also, a pistol was found alongside the road where police had chased Lockhart's vehicle. Police investigator Andy Langley testified without the jury in the room that Lockhart told him that he threw his gun out of the car during the chase.

Lockhart is accused of kidnapping Burk in her car, forcing her to disrobe, shooting her in the back as she tried to flee while the car was moving, then leaving her to bleed to death on the road. John Daniels, a medical examiner with the Alabama Department of Forensic Science, testified that Burk died within minutes of being shot in the back at close range on the night of March 4, 2008.

Also during a busy day of testimony, jurors heard about the final hours of Burk's life — hanging out with her boyfriend, planning to meet a friend to study. It included an account of a brief, hurried phone call that may have been the last known conversation with Burk of Marietta.

Among the first witnesses Monday was former Auburn student Sean McQuade. He said he was Burk's boyfriend and that they hung out at his apartment for several hours the evening she was killed. He described a mostly relaxed time — she slept, he watched television, they argued briefly about how she looked in a certain outfit — that ended when she left to meet a friend to study.

Asked by prosecutor Nick Abbett if he ever saw Burk again, McQuade said, "not alive, no sir."

Childhood friend Michael de St. Aubin of Marietta, testified that Burk never showed up to study for an upcoming history exam. Under questioning by Abbett, St. Aubin said at one point he called her cell phone and had a brief, strained conversation.

"I asked her if she was ready to study. She told me about a birthday dinner for a friend she had forgotten about," St. Aubin said. He said Burk seemed in a hurry to get off the phone and that it sounded like she was in a car. Prosecutors did not say if they believed she received the call after being kidnapped.

McQuade testified that a short time later, he received a call from Burk's mother, who said the family had been notified by Auburn police that Burk's car had been found burning in the parking lot of the university's band practice field.

Police investigators also presented evidence that Burk's credit card had been used to buy gas at a station near campus after Burk had been kidnapped.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting.

If you have any names of victims that belong here, please email me at