HARRISBURG — Brian Burns, the man convicted of attempting to kidnap the late Saline County State’s Attorney Mike Henshaw, still has not been sentenced for the crime.
Appearing more than a month after his initial sentencing hearing July 25, Burns, a former Saline County physician, sat alone Tuesday at the defendant's table in Judge Walden Morris’ courtroom. When Morris convened court, Burns announced he was not prepared to proceed with the hearing because he still had not found a lawyer.
The July hearing was reset for August because Burns and defense attorney Bryan Drew had parted ways — Drew had presented the court with a motion to withdraw as Burns' attorney. The motion, which was filed July 10, states that the cause of the decision was because, "there was a breakdown in communication between the defendant and Drew & Drew, P.C."
In July, Burns said he was in the process of trying to hire Duane Verity of Marion to oversee his case, however, in court Tuesday he said he was not able to secure counsel because of insufficient funds — he said his assets have been frozen. When asked by Morris if he wished to be represented by an attorney during sentencing, Burns said he did. Morris then asked Burns to fill out an asset affidavit form to determine his eligibility for a public defender.
Morris set a status hearing for 1 p.m. Sept. 5 for both Burns’ sentencing hearing as well as his murder trial — Burns was charged in 2016 with murder in the death of his wife, Carla Burns. During the hearing, Morris said he hoped to sort out who would be representing Brian Burns in both matters.
Before finishing the hearing, Burns asked if he would be given a chance to make an allocation statement during sentencing. When Morris told him that he would, as well as be able to present witnesses, Burns replied that he was not made aware of that. He also indicated that Drew had not made him aware nor given him the option to take the stand in his own defense during his attempted kidnapping trial.
A Saline County jury returned a guilty verdict on the kidnapping charges on May 12 after deliberating for less than two hours. Burns was found guilty of one count each of attempted aggravated kidnapping, solicitation and conspiracy to commit aggravated kidnapping. Burns had allegedly asked a cellmate to help orchestrate the kidnapping of Henshaw, who was Saline County's state's attorney at the time.
Conspiracy to commit aggravated kidnapping is a Class X felony for which Burns could serve six to 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Burns will face a jury trial on Jan. 17, 2018, on two murder charges and a charge of concealment in the 2016 death of Carla Burns.