Lauren Burk Murder Verdict: Iraq War Veteran Guilty of Capital Murder
OPELIKA, Ala. (CBS/AP) Alabama jurors found Iraq War veteran Courtney Lockhart guilty of capital murder in the March 2008 kidnapping and shooting death of 18-year-old Auburn University student Lauren Burk.
Jurors deliberated about six-and-a-half hours over two days before convicting Lockhart, 26, of rural Smith Station, in the killing of the 18-year-old freshman.
Wearing a black suit, Lockhart sat calmly with his lawyers and showed no emotion when the verdict was announced. He had pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental defect, and did not testify.
Jurors resumed deliberations Thursday morning after they insisted on watching the garbled videotaped statement in which Lockhart admitted to abducting Burk, a freshman from Marietta, Ga.
Lockhart's defense attorneys told jurors in opening statements that he did not intentionally kill Burk and argued that he was mentally troubled after he returned from a tour of Iraq with the Army.
In a written statement Lockhart, 26, claimed he spotted Burk after he had been on campus most of the day. "I ran up to Lauren while she was getting into her car and said 'give me your money,"' he said in the written statement.
In the distorted videotaped statement Lockhart claimed his gun just "went off" when Burk attempted to get out of the car the night of March 4, 2008.
However, according to medical testimony, Burk was shot in the back and died shortly after the bullet passed through her lungs. She collapsed on the road as Lockhart drove away.
On the videotaped statement, Lockhart said he started driving Burk's car and ordered her to "take off her clothes," because he thought she would be less likely to escape with her clothes off.
"I never thought about having sex with her," he said.
Lockhart also claimed the two spoke of his problems. "We started talking about how my life was over. She said she could help me get a job," he said in the written statement.
He could be sentenced to death or life without the possibility of parole in the penalty phase, which is expected to begin soon after the conviction.
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