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Burns guilty on kidnapping charges

 
BY TRAVIS DENEAL tdeneal@dailyregister.com
updated: 5/12/2017 2:51 PM

HARRISBURG -- A jury on Friday found Dr. Brian Burns guilty of charges in a plan to kidnap then-Saline County State's Attorney Mike Henshaw while Burns was in jail accused of murdering his wife.

The three women and nine men found Burns guilty on all three counts of attempted aggravated kidnapping, solicitation to commit aggravated kidnapping and conspiracy to commit aggravated kidnapping.

Burns appeared expressionless as the verdict was read.

He was already in jail on charges of first-degree murder and concealment of a homicidal death in connection with the death of his wife Carla Burns when he was accused of plotting to have State's Attorney Mike Henshaw kidnapped and bribed to make the murder charges go away.

According to courtroom testimony, cellmate Mark Stricklin became aware of Burns' desire to kidnap Henshaw. He then approached law enforcement personnel to pass that information along.

According to testimony, Stricklin -- wearing a wire -- met with Burns several times to discuss how the kidnapping would occur and how much would be paid for the services.

Defense attorney Bryan Drew argued that the scenarios Burns was accused of developing for the kidnapping and the small amount of money for the job -- no more than $1,000 -- showed that Burns was not serious about kidnapping Henshaw.

Drew also argued that Stricklin had an agenda by passing the information on to authorities because he was in custody faced with serious charges.

Special prosecutor Matt Goetten argued that Burns not only was serious about kidnapping Hensaw, but planned a ransom -- hence the charges being extended to "aggravated" status.

The jury deliberated about 1.5 hours before return with the guilty verdicts. Morris set a sentencing hearing for 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 25.

Henshaw died on March 23 from an accidental fall at his home. Due to Henshaw's long history as both a judge and a prosecutor, his death was investigated. Foul play was ruled out.