Burch's defense uses Detrie's recent arrest in latest court filing

Published: May. 30, 2017 at 6:24 PM CDT
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Defense attorneys for a Brown County murder suspect use the phrase "creative writing" to criticize prosecutors' filing which called their motion a "fantastical tale."

George Burch is charged with first-degree intentional homicide for the death of Nicole VanderHeyden, whose body was found in a field a few miles from her home in May 2016.

Burch's attorneys filed a Denny motion, asking the court's permission to accuse another person -- VanderHeyden's boyfriend, Douglass Detrie -- of being the real killer.

Burch's lawyers bring up Detrie's recent arrest in Brown County for false imprisonment and recklessly endangering safety in a case involving VanderHeyden's sister, in which she says Detrie wouldn't let her out of his car after she refused his sexual advances. The defense contends Detrie abuses drugs and alcohol.

The defense also claims Detrie caught VanderHeyden and Burch having sex in a car, giving him motive to kill her. Burch claims Detrie knocked him out, then beat VanderHeyden to death and forced Burch at gunpoint to move her body.

Detrie was arrested right after the murder but released soon after because of a lack of evidence and DNA evidence pointing to another suspect. Prosecutors say Detrie was not a suspect in the murder.

The state suggests Detrie couldn't knock out Burch, who is 6'7" tall and 250 pounds, and beat VanderHeyden to death without causing any visible injuries to himself.

In their latest court filing, Burch's lawyers also raise doubts about the state's evidence from Detrie's Fitbit fitness tracker. The State says Detrie's fitness tracker doesn't follow Burch's timeline of events, but the defense says that evidence is moot because of faulty police tactics, chain of custody issues and questions about the fitness tracker's accuracy.

A judge will hear arguments from both sides in court in June.