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Brian Burns May 21 2019 hearing

Brian Burns, who is accused in the 2016 murder of his estranged wife, is seen being escorted from Saline County Court following a hearing Tuesday, May 21.

HARRISBURG — Further delays continue to push back Brian Burns’ murder trial.

Burns was arrested in 2016 in the killing of his estranged wife, Carla Burns, and charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of concealing her death, which he allegedly did by burning her body and spreading the ashes.

A motion hearing Tuesday was scheduled both to discuss a medical report detailing Burns’ mental fitness to stand trial, as well as to discuss whether a special prosecutor would be needed to try the case.

However, it never got that far.

Burns' murder trial was initially pushed back when he was also charged with attempting to have then-State’s Attorney Mike Henshaw kidnapped. Burns was found guilty of that crime in 2017.

Defense attorney Duane Verity told the court Tuesday that he had neither received the motion to appoint a special prosecutor nor the doctor’s report. The motion said the new assistant state’s attorneys had been approached by Burns to represent him previous to their employment with the county, presenting a conflict of interest.

In an interview with The Southern after the brief Tuesday hearing, Verity said he was not prepared to argue the motion because had not had time to review it and was not sure of the nature of the contact Burns had with the attorneys in question.

“I’ve had the motion less time than I’ve had my lunch,” Verity said.

Saline County State’s Attorney Molly Wilson Kasiar said she could not comment on why the motion did not get to Verity on time because she did not personally hand the document to the clerk. However, according to court records website Judici, the motion was filed May 6 and a notice to appear to Tuesday’s hearing was sent the following day.

When asked why, if he knew the motion was filed earlier this month, Verity did not pick up a copy when he was at the courthouse for business, he fired back: “You mean aside from the fact it’s not my job?”

As for the report from Dr. Fred Klug of Nashville, Verity said Burns was evaluated in April; the order to have Burns’ fitness tested was made in January. Verity had expressed concern for his client’s ability to assist in his own defense. He said Burns has a hard time following a single line of conversation and conflates his two legal cases.

The court ordered the parties to return to court at 1 p.m. June 11 to discuss both issues.

If Burns is found to be mentally fit to stand trial there, is a jury setting scheduled to begin Sept. 18.

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isaac.smith@thesouthern.com

618-351-5823

On Twitter: @ismithreports

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Isaac Smith is a reporter covering Jackson County.

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