The jury that found a Laurel man not guilty of manslaughter in his girlfriend’s death believes he killed her, but police didn’t provide evidence to prove it, the jury foreman told The Laurel-Call Leader.
A jury in Franklin County held Greg Burrough’s fate in its hands in the killing of 23-year-old Katherine Sinclair, and jurors ruled in his favor.
She was shot in his garage in Laurel’s upscale Windermere subdivision on June 1, 2017. Laurel police found her gasping for breath, holding a gun in her right hand (she was left-handed) and partially naked in the driver’s seat of her car. The garage door was partially closed (stuck on her car) and her phone was on the counter in Burroughs’ kitchen, the newspaper reported.
The jury, in its seventh day of trial on Aug. 28, first voted 10-2 for a verdict of not guilty, the foreman told the newspaper. After discussing their instructions, all 12 jurors decided to vote “not guilty,” the foreman said.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
By law, juries are instructed to find a verdict of guilty only if they believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime.
“We think he did it ... but we were not sure enough to put him in prison for it,” the foreman told a Laurel Call-Leader reporter. The foreman was identified only as a businessman and son of a veteran police officer.
Laurel is the setting for a nationally televised home renovation show on HGTV that features a Laurel couple’s work.
Jones County District Attorney Tony Buckley had told jurors it was a case of circumstantial evidence.
While police had lifted fingerprints from the gun’s clip (they were unusable), police did not send the gun itself to a crime lab, according to testimony.
“That was very significant to us,” the foreman told the Leader-Call.
“The whole gun should have been fingerprinted. You would think (the police) would do their job thoroughly.”
Sinclair was shot with her own gun. Police seized its holster from the front seat of her car and placed it in evidence in their basement, but a flood washed it away, testimony showed. Sinclair and Burroughs both had gunshot residue on the palms of their hands.
The jury didn’t like the demeanor that Burroughs, from a prominent family, showed, the foreman told the newspaper. Burroughs snacked on “nabs” during the trial, he said, and opened cans of soda, at times making it hard to hear testimony.
Burroughs showed no signs of emotion at trial when he viewed disturbing pictures and police body-camera video of his girlfriend dying, the foreman told the Leader-Call.
“He was just leaned back, feet crossed, with those boots,” the foreman said.
“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.”
Something must have scared Sinclair for her to try to drive away partially clothed, he said.
The jury was not allowed to hear of any “prior bad acts” regarding Burroughs. Such as a domestic dispute with a previous girlfriend who wanted him arrested in 2014 (she was arrested instead) and the charge was dismissed or disappeared; and Burroughs’ DUI arrest and child endangerment charge from 2016 was dismissed because officers didn’t show up in court on time, Laurel Call-Leader Publisher Jim Cegielski wrote in a column published Aug. 26.
Burroughs also had failed a polygraph test, the newspaper said. State law deems polygraphs inadmissible in court.
“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,” the foreman told the newspaper.
Text messages read aloud in court showed Burroughs and Sinclair having arguments.
“It sounds like (Burroughs) was controlling,” the foreman told the newspaper. “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.”
Franklin County Circuit Clerk Warren Walker told the Leader-Call after trial that several jurors had told him they believed Burroughs “probably did it, but ‘probably’ wasn’t enough to send a man to prison for 25 years.”
The Laurel Leader-Call has called for the resignation of Police Chief Tyrone Stewart.
Officers under Stewart’s direction “botched” the case, in which Stewart had “more than a vested interest,” an editorial published Friday says.
Stewart and the Burroughs family “were very well acquainted,” and the chief abandoned his media relations customs by issuing only a brief press release after the shooting and has said “not a peep since,” the editorial says. “If retiring gracefully is untenable to the chief, we call on Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee to ask for Stewart’s resignation or he be fired,” the editorial says.