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Trial date set in Burns case

Staff Writer
Posted on 8/26/2016, 11:16 AM

Next year, Brian Burns will have his day in court.

A jury trial in the case against Burns will begin on March 22. Burns, 56, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of concealment of a body in connection with the death of his estranged wife, Carla Burns. He is accused of shooting his wife to death and burning her remains to conceal her corpse. She was divorcing him at the time.

Carla Burns, 49, of Marion, was reported missing by friends and family on March 8. She was employed as a nursing instructor at Southeastern Illinois college.

Before the Brian Burns trial begins, a hearing will be held in October to check on the status of both the defense's and state’s cases. Marion attorney Nick Brown, who is defending Burns, had requested a continuance to hire expert witnesses in the fields of ballistics and anthropology. During the status hearing on Thursday, Brown reported that the defense still needed time to hire and work with the expert witnesses, as well as to go through discovery provided to them by the state.

The defense says it does have one expert on hand; a psychiatric expert who will, “provide a forensic analysis of the defendant’s current mental state as well as at the time of the alleged incident.”

Saline County Assistant State’s Attorney Jason Olson reported that the state is currently waiting on more discovery that they will have to go through. Olson also said that once the defense retains their expert witnesses, the prosecution will have to review the information they provide, to determine whether they would like to retain witnesses to rebut the defense.

Carla and Brian Burns had been in the process of divorcing since December 2014. Carla Burns filed for dissolution of marriage, on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences.”

Since the divorce proceedings began, Carla Burns filed multiple petitions for temporary relief and restraining orders against Burns, alleging “constant verbal abuse from Brian Burns,” and concerns for possible physical violence. Burns also claimed that her husband had taken $63,058 from their joint bank accounts and requested that he not be able to spend it.

During the divorce, Brian Burns claimed that his wife had admitted to committing adultery with an unidentified individual while they were married, and that she had taken his passport, scuba diving certification cards, various home documents, and his two handguns. Burns also was reportedly in fear of his wife, who he accused of working with her sister, an attorney in Texas, “On how to take from me (Brian Burns) all of our financial assets and to exploit my ability to earn an income to benefit her and to leave me destitute,” according to court documents

A status hearing in the case will be held at 2 p.m., Oct. 27, while the final pre-trial hearing will be held at 9 a.m. on March 2.