Cop’s son says police ‘didn’t do their job’
MEADVILLE — The foreman of the Franklin County jury that found Greg Burroughs not guilty of manslaughter said, “We think he did it ... but we were not sure enough to put him in prison for it.”
There was no “smoking gun” to convict Burroughs, 39, in the fatal shooting of 23-year-old girlfriend Katherine Sinclair, he said, and there was no “finger-printed gun” to support the accusation that Burroughs pulled the trigger.
“That was very significant to us,” the foreman said. “The whole gun should have been fingerprinted. You would think (the police) would do their job thoroughly. They should’ve been ordered to do it — get fingerprints, then ballistics.”
The jury foreman, who is a 37-year- old man working in the family business, did not want to be identified after seeing comments lashing out at the jurors on the Leader-Call Facebook page. He is not anti-law enforcement, he said.
“My dad’s been a police officer for 25 years,” he said.
Jurors just followed their instructions, not their gut feelings, he said.
The foreman pointed to the same rule that District Attorney Tony Buckley cited in his “uphill battle” to try the case that was built on circumstantial evidence: “The evidence must be so strong as to exclude every other reasonable hypothe- sis other than that of guilt, and if there are two interpretations, the juror must resolve doubt in favor of the accused.”
That, in a nutshell, is why the jury — five white men, five white women, a black man and a black woman — returned a “not guilty” verdict in a little more than an hour, the foreman said.
Jurors taken aback at Burroughs’ demeanor
They retired to the jury room at 11:35 a.m. Tuesday after hearing six days of testimony from 15 witnesses then closing arguments of almost an hour from defense attorney Tracy Klein and Buckley on the seventh day.
They decided to eat lunch first, then discuss the case. Their first poll was 10-2 n favor of “not guilty,” the foreman said. And it didn’t take long to bring the two “guilty” votes around by pointing to their instructions. “We couldn’t say for sure that she didn’t do it,” he said. “The physical evidence wasn’t there.”
They knocked on the door to the courtroom to tell the bailiff that they had a verdict at 1:15 p.m.
Jurors noted Burroughs’ demeanor — in police body- cam video right after the shooting, during the trial and at the reading of the verdict.
“He was just leaned back, feet crossed, with those boots,” the foreman said. And that was even during disturbing videos of Sinclair dying in the driver’s seat of her car, gasping for air as officers tried to render aid.
“Whether it was homicide or suicide ... that was supposed to be his girlfriend,” the foreman said. “He never turned away or cringed or showed any emotion, then or now. If that had been my girlfriend ... that would’ve been tough to watch.”
The jurors also noticed him cracking open cans of Coke — once even in the hushed courtroom while they were struggling to hear audio of Burroughs’ initial interview by lead investigator Sgt. Michael Reaves of the LPD — and snacking on “nabs” throughout the trial.
The fact that Burroughs called Kyle Robertson twice before dialing 911 “was big” to the jury, as was the evidence that the garage door had closed down on Sinclair’s car, that her phone was still on Burroughs’ kitchen counter and that she was naked from the waist down in her car. He believed that something scared her enough to make her try to leave the house undressed ...
“But it’s all just theories,” the foreman said. “We needed physical facts.”
‘The police didn’t do their job...’
In most cases, the rules of evidence don’t allow jurors to know “prior bad acts” of the defendant. When told about previous domestic dispute allegations against Burroughs that were either dismissed or disappeared and that he failed a polygraph test, the foreman said, “If we would have known that there were more domestics and the polygraph, that may have made a difference ... but it doesn’t change the fact that the police didn’t do their job in this case.”
Polygraph results are inadmissible in court, according to Mississippi law.
Dr. Christy Chard, who is the longtime girlfriend of the victim’s father Scott Sinclair, said they were disappointed by the rules that worked against the prosecution.
“The criminal court is not allowed to judge on probability, but unfortunately ‘beyond the shadow of a doubt,’” she said, pointing to the O.J. Simpson case as a famous example.
Chard said it did feel like “Katherine was being put on trial,” and that’s “one of the problems with criminal court,” she said. “It is allowed to put her on trial, but not the perpetrator. Katherine was unable to speak for herself since she was deceased or incapacitated. Unfortunately, Burroughs was the only one able to speak on the night of June 1 after 9 p.m. The reality is that victims have no rights.”
Chard and the victim’s father both testified on her behalf. “We were pleased with Tony Buckley and the DA’s office and the Laurel Police Department,” Chard said. “It is disconcerting that the jury did not deliberate longer.”
The foreman shook his head and chuckled about accusations on social media that they were paid off. “Ridiculous,” he said.
He was so mindful of following Judge Dal Williamson’s daily instructions, he said, that he didn’t dare search the Internet for anything about the case.
“I thought we may be being monitored or something,” he said. “I didn’t want to get arrested.”
When the trial went on break for the weekend, the judge gave instructions that jurors not visit any of the places that were being talked about in the trial. Because of that, he didn’t even make the weekend trip to Jones County Junior College, where his daughter has registered to attend.
“I didn’t want to be anywhere in Jones County,” he said, and risk having someone think he was “snooping around.”
LPD should have done more
But Laurel police should have done a little more snooping, the foreman said. “The police did not do their job,” the foreman said, adding that not all of them were derelict. He referred to some crude comments by Lt. Shannon Caraway that were caught on video, but he also noted how insistent she was was about bagging the hands of Burroughs and Sinclair to help preserve gunshot residue.
“She ran her mouth, but she didn’t not do her job,” the foreman said. “The lead investigator didn’t do his job.”
Reaves was on the witness stand for almost nine hours, starting late last Friday morning and finishing Monday afternoon. Near the end of his marathon testimony, a question by Buckley suggested that it was more important to get firearms experts at the state crime lab to do a ballistics test instead of getting fingerprints. “If not tested, conspiracy theorists would say this is not the gun,” Buckley said.
Jamie Bush, a fingerprint expert with state crime lab and former LPD chief who consulted with Reaves on the case, testified that he would have “printed” the gun. Reaves did “lift” fingerprints from the clip of the gun, but the lab wasn’t able to use the prints, Reaves and Bush testified.
A holster that was in the car was put into evidence but lost after a flood in the basement of the LPD. Two important facts that were in Reaves’ and Caraway’s initial reports had to be amended because they were wrong.
Klein hammered on those points in his closing, saying that their first reports “didn’t fit the narrative” they were trying to establish. “They didn’t try to confirm a suicide, they tried to create a murder.”
Klein “made it look like (police) didn’t do their job,” the foreman said. “He kept saying that details matter. I watch CSI, and those guys are detailed.”
Jurors also saw some evidence that they question, such as the kitchen towel that Burroughs said he used to put pressure on Sinclair’s wounds. Officers testified that it should have had more blood on it considering how much blood the victim lost.
“A lab tech who was on the jury said it doesn’t absorb as much if it’s not submerged,” he said.
They also looked at the trajectory of the bullet that went through Sinclair’s skull, out the back window and into the upper part of the garage door.
“(Burroughs) would have had to have been lower than her, like on the floorboard,” the foreman said.
And even though the jury didn’t like the fact that Burroughs called Robertson before
911, he said the three minutes or so between the shooting and the call for help “was not a sufficient amount of time to come up with this whole plan” and he “couldn’t have cleaned up a whole lot.”
For every text message that had Burroughs threatening Sinclair, there was an equally damning text from her saying she would kill herself, or that she was depressed or possibly schizophrenic, the foreman said.
“(Klein) was adamant that she had mental problems,” he said, and referred to the calls to Pine Grove Mental Health Care in the final minutes of her life. Nobody “humanized” her from the witness stand, and even her father’s testimony said that she was “spoiled” and was prone to “overreact to minor things,” the foreman said. It came out that she had lied about enrolling in college and had instead pocketed money her father gave her.
“Let’s be real, she looked at Greg as a sugar daddy,” the foreman said, “and she was looking at losing money she was getting from her dad. Things were closing in on her.”
A text argument between the two that was read aloud to the court “sounded childish,” aside from graphic references to their sex life, the foreman said.
“It sounds like (Burroughs) was controlling,” he said. “If we had known about the priors, it may have made a difference. If we had some hard evidence, it would have gone the other way. We made the best decision with what we were presented.”
After the trial, Franklin County Circuit Clerk Warren Walker said more than one juror told him they believed that Burroughs “probably did it, but ‘probably’ wasn’t enough to send a man to prison for 25 years.”
Defense attorney Tracy Klein asks Laurel police Sgt. Michael Reaves why he didn’t get fingerprints from the gun.
Burroughs is stil facing a wrongful-death lawsuit that was filed in Jones County Circuit Court.
Lawyers on both sides of the case were in the courtroom for most of the testimony. It's not known when that case will be heard, but it's likely that another change-of-venue motion will be filed.
What the juryforeman said
‘(Lt. Shannon Caraway) ran her mouth, but she didn’t not do her job. The lead investigator didn’t do his job.’
‘Whether it was homicide or suicide ... that was supposed to be his girlfriend,. He never turned away or cringed or showed any emotion, then or now. If that had been my girlfriend ... that would’ve been tough to watch.’
‘The whole gun should have been fingerprinted. You would think (the police) would do their job thoroughly. They should’ve been ordered to do it — get fingerprints,
‘We couldn’t say for sure that she didn’t do it.The physical evidence wasn’t there.’
‘If we had known about the priors, it may have made a difference. If we had some hard evidence, it would have gone the other way. We made the best decision with what we were presented.’
'Let's be real, she looked at Greg as a sugar daddy.'