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HARRISBURG — Brian Burns, the man accused of killing his wife and disposing of her remains in 2016, has again had his murder trial pushed back, this time because his defense has questions about his ability to stand trial.

Saline County State’s Attorney Jayson Clark was ready to start Burns’ trial later this month, but he said it will again be delayed after Verity came to the hearing Friday.

Brian Burns

Burns

“Duane Verity came in here and said he had a bona fide doubt about his (Burns’) fitness to stand trial,” Clark said. Clark said Verity had doubts over whether Burns could assist in his defense or understand the proceedings.

Verity could not be reached for comment.

Burns, a former hospitalist in the region, stands accused of killing his estranged wife, Carla Burns, and later burning her body and scattering her ashes around their rural Harrisburg property.

Clark said the motion has not yet been filed by Verity on the matter but that the court settled on a status hearing Sept. 28. However, he said if the motion can be filed soon, the court would expedite the process.

Clark said the next steps could take several forms — but the most basic future move is to have Burns evaluated by a doctor either of his choosing or one appointed by the court. He said depending on what the final report says, there may be need to have the doctor brought in for testimony.

Clark wouldn’t go into specifics about what it would mean if Burns were to be found mentally unfit to stand trial — he said he didn’t want to get the “cart before the horse.”

Burns was convicted in May 2017 of attempting to have the late State’s Attorney Mike Henshaw kidnapped while awaiting trial on his murder charge.

Burns' murder trial has been delayed already because his previous attorney, Brian Drew, asked for a venue change, citing jury pool contamination. Also, the trial had been pushed back because of Burns' change in defense after losing the kidnapping trial, and because Verity reported issues with obtaining discovery from the state when taking over the case in 2017.

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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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