HARRISBURG — In his first public appearance representing Brian Burns, Duane Verity said he anticipates having no problems being ready for trial this January, in which Burns stands accused of murdering his wife, Carla Burns.
Verity has taken the place of Bryan Drew as Burns’ attorney after Drew’s motion to withdraw was granted on Sept. 28. Drew also withdrew from representing Burns in his kidnapping case, citing irreconcilable differences between himself and Burns. This came after Burns was found guilty in May of attempting to kidnap late Saline County State’s Attorney Mike Henshaw.
Addressing Judge Walden Morris, Verity said after taking the case from Drew, he received 80 pounds of documents relating to the case, including about 20 DVDs. However, he said he needs new copies of some discs, as some of his were damaged.
Verity said beyond some procedural motions that could need a hearing, he sees no reason to need to appear in court before the Jan. 5 final pretrial hearing in the case.
Saline County State’s Attorney Jayson Olson also said he was ready for the Jan. 17 trial date.
After Tuesday’s hearing, Verity said he is doing his best to comply with his client’s wishes.
“Dr. Burns wants to go forward,” Verity said, adding that while it may seem like a lot to prepare for a murder trial in just three months, the workload isn’t too bad.
“When you are doing a trial with no evidence, I don’t think it’s that hard,” he said.
Both of Burns’ cases have been full of starts and stops. After heavy media coverage, Drew attempted in January to secure a change in venue for Burns' murder trial, claiming there was a strong possibility of a tainted jury pool. Morris denied that request.
After being convicted in May of attempted kidnapping, Burns’ sentencing was postponed twice, both times for a change in counsel — Drew left the case in July and during the rescheduled sentencing hearing in August, Burns informed the court he still had not secured another attorney because of insufficient funds. He was then granted public defender Nathan Rowland in September. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 11.
Burns, a former Saline County physician, will stand trial in January on two murder charges and a charge of concealment in the 2016 death of Carla Burns. It is alleged that Burns shot his wife and later attempted to conceal the crime by burning her body and spreading the ashes. As previously reported in The Southern, the two were estranged and had filed divorce papers in 2014.