MEADVILLE — A Franklin County jury found Greg Burroughs not guilty of manslaughter in the death of his girlfriend, 23-year-old Katherine Sinclair. The jury deliberated for about an hour before reaching the verdict.
Previous story below
After six days of testimony and spirited closing arguments by District Attorney Tony Buckley and defense attorney Tracy Klein, the jurors will have 60 exhibits and testimony from more than a dozen witnesses to consider when making their decision.
The jury — five white men, five white women, one black man and one black woman — is made up of a cross section of this small, conservative county of 7,500 that was once deemed the “straightest county in America” by a CNN survey. There’s a hairdresser, a pipeline worker, a branch manager of a bank, an offshore oilfield worker, a court administrator, a couple of retirees … all tasked with reaching a verdict in a case that has captivated a county that’s 112 miles east of here and captured the attention of people across the country, including producers from Dateline.
For all the boxes of files, enlarged photos, timelines and testimony, it all boils down to one simple question: Did Katherine Sinclair, 23, shoot herself in the head or did her boyfriend Greg Burroughs, 39, fire the fatal shot in his garage on the night of June 1, 2017?
Klein’s 50-minute closing argument punched holes in police officer’s testimony. He paints the Laurel Police Department as overzealous in its attempt to charge Burroughs with murder.
“They didn’t try to confirm suicide, they tried to create a murder,” Klein said.
Klein said his client was “set up to look deceptive.”
Buckley challenged jurors to use their “good country common sense” when they begin deliberating. He said Burroughs “is not credible, not believable.” He asked the jurors to use that common sense to decide if Sinclair was about to go riding and drinking “naked from the waist down,” as she was discovered in the driver’s seat of her Honda. “Have you ever heard of anyone going on a country loop half-naked?”
Buckley also referred to police body-cam video that showed Burroughs immediately after the shooting.
“Most of us would be more freaked out if a complete stranger shot herself in our garage,” he said.
Buckley concluded with his theory of what happened that night in the gated community just outside of Laurel, just after they returned there from dinner and drinks at The Loft.
“He gets home, he wants the sex he’s been promised, and things go south,” Buckley said. “She gets upset, leaves house half-naked, but he doesn’t want her leaving …”
Buckley points out that one of Sinclair’s last acts was to try to Google search Burroughs’ ex-wife, after Sinclair had threatened to send her embarrassing photos/videos in an effort to damage his chances in an ongoing child-custody battle.
A fight ensues, then “he shoots her, then makes sure the gun is found in her hand.”
Burroughs then took the phone, Buckley said, to see what she was able to send off.
“That’s what this was all about,” he said. “It wasn’t about Katherine being depressed or suicidal.
“The pieces of the puzzle are there,” Buckley said. “I believe you will find him guilty of manslaughter.”
If convicted, Burroughs faces up to 25 years in prison.