HARRISBURG — Sorting through the legal system, Brian Burns still awaits a sentence for the May conviction of attempted kidnapping. However, he is now represented by a state-appointed defense attorney.
Burns was convicted in May for attempting to have late Saline County State’s Attorney Mike Henshaw kidnapped while sitting in jail for allegedly murdering his wife, Carla Burns. He was originally scheduled to be sentenced in late July, however before the hearing his attorney for the case, Bryan Drew, filed a motion to withdraw as counsel citing differences of opinion with Burns.
When Burns reappeared Aug. 29, after being given a month to find an attorney, Burns said to Judge Walden Morris that he was not able to afford one. He was given an affidavit of assets and liabilities that would determine his ability to afford an attorney and potentially qualify him for state help. He was told to bring it to court Tuesday.
Morris had expected Drew to appear in court Tuesday, however Saline County State’s Attorney Jayson Clark said he had spoken with Drew and was told that he had filled out a motion for substitute counsel and had turned over this motion as well as his entire case file to Duane Verity, of Marion. Clark said Drew was under the impression Verity would have filed the motion.
Burns was also scheduled to appear in regard to his pending murder case — Morris wanted to sort out Burns’ defense for both his kidnapping sentencing as well as January murder trial the same day. Clark said to Morris that Drew had indicated to him that he anticipated filing a motion to withdraw in this case as well.
In his affidavit of assets, Burns described himself as a widower who received no income from employment, pensions, trusts, annuity, rents, royalties or other sources. The form also indicated that his home as well as two vehicles — a Chevy Silverado and a Toyota Rav-4 — were held in probate. According to the affidavit, he has $1,500 of cash on hand and owes $150,000 in student loans.
After reading for the court the contents of the assets document, Morris mentioned that it was brought up as evidence in the kidnapping trial that Burns had access to a bank account that contained $20,000 in it. Burns acknowledged this but said it had been drawn down to to pay for legal fees.
Based on the information provided, Morris appointed public defense attorney Nathan Rowland to handle Burns’ sentencing. Morris told Burns that should his funds become available in the future, the state may seek payment for Rowland’s services.
Burns said he was in the process of securing Verity for defense in his murder trial. Indeed, Verity was in attendance and said he and Burns were in the process of negotiating.
“When it’s beneficial for my client, I’ll file a motion,” Verity said, declining to comment on just what such a beneficial moment would be.
It was unclear if Verity had formally taken Burns as a client. He is not listed in court documents posted to Judici. However, the two talked quietly after receiving permission from Morris once court adjourned.
Burns is scheduled for status hearings at 1 p.m. Sept. 12 regarding his murder case, and 1 p.m. Oct. 3 for his sentencing hearing.