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 after a hearing in May.

HARRISBURG — When his September murder trial begins, Brian Burns will see a familiar face in court at the state’s desk.

Special Appellate Prosecutor Matt Goetten has been assigned to prosecute Burns for the 2016 murder of his estranged wife Carla Burns. It is alleged that Burns killed her, burned her and scattered her remains on their rural Harrisburg property. No notice of appearance has been filed with the clerk, but Goetten said in an email he will be appearing for Friday’s pretrial hearing.

Goetten represented the state in Burns’ 2018 kidnapping trial. A special prosecutor was assigned to the case because it was alleged that, while in jail for his murder charge, Burns conspired to have then-Saline County State’s Attorney Mike Henshaw kidnapped.

After about a week of testimony, the bulk of which came from jailhouse informant Mark Stricklin, a jury returned a guilty verdict and Judge Walden Morris handed down a 20-year sentence to Burns.

Goetten was again asked to step in Saline County after it was asserted by the State’s Attorney’s Office that the recently-hired assistant attorneys all had conflicts with the case as Burns had previously approached each of them for legal aid.

Burns’ defense attorney, Marion’s Duane Verity, took issue with the late filing.

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“They created a conflict and because of that conflict they want to get out of the case,” he said.

He said he recommended they just sequester Burns’ case file, but that the state explained there is not enough room in the office to do that.

Verity complained that this would further delay the case, which has already been pushed back because of doctor’s competency evaluation of Burns, which took months. The state has not said this will delay the September jury date, but Verity doesn’t know how it can’t.

“This is the sort of thing that creates delay,” Verity said.

Burns is next scheduled for a pretrial conference at 9 a.m. Friday.

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On Twitter: @ismithreports



Isaac Smith is a reporter covering Jackson County.

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