Jurors say the evidence convicted Burch

Published: Mar. 1, 2018 at 9:04 PM CST
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After a week-and-a-half of hearing testimony and seeing evidence, George Burch's

of first-degree intentional homicide after just a few hours for the murder of Nicole VanderHeyden.

To find Burch guilty of a crime that will mean life in prison, the judge said it had to be a unanimous decision among all 12 jurors.

Action 2 News talked with two of the jurors shortly after the verdict was read, and they say the decision came down to two things.

"For us it was mostly the DNA evidence and the cord -- the cord with Burch's DNA and Nicole's," Ashley Hale and Rachel Hillery told us.

We've watched trials where deliberations stretched into the night and other days, but not in this nine-day trial.

In the jury room, Hale says, "Everyone was pretty much on the same page going through everything. We were essentially trying to make sure we weren't missing anything."

About an hour into deliberations, the jury asked to review some evidence. Hillery explained, "We wanted to see if the cords from (Douglass) Detrie's garage matched the cord that was used."

Burch's defense tried to point to VanderHeyden's boyfriend, Douglass Detrie, with whom she lived and had a child, as her killer.

When those cords didn't match the murder weapon, Hillery and Hale say the evidence pointed them to Burch.

Then there was Burch's own testimony on Wednesday.

"I thought his story was far too detailed in places that it was convenient and lacked significant detail in other places. So I thought that was all a story," Hale said.

"There was times, I will admit, I was convinced or was going back and forth, but just the evidence," Hillery said, "and you want to have a heart and don't want to send someone the guilty plea, but in the end the evidence was there."

Regarding Detrie, Hale said, "We all agreed that he might not be a standup citizen, and certainly maybe wasn't the best boyfriend. However, there was no evidence to support he was involved in this murder."

"With Mr. Burch's argument, the argument wasn't that he wasn't involved in moving her body, it was that he didn't kill her. And ultimately his DNA was the only DNA other than the victim's on the murder weapon," Hale continued.

Hillery and Hale were never part of a jury before and admit at times the trial was difficult to sit through, especially seeing VanderHeyden's bloody clothes.

"I'm talking myself down because Nicole's family is right there and you're trying not to get emotional," Hillery said, "because they have to see that, and I don't think it was fair to them that they had to see that."

"It was definitely hard to see the injuries and having the family in the courtroom. It was hard to maintain your composure when seeing how they are reacting. But we were, I think, as a group able to stay fair and impartial and come to the right decision," Hale added.

A decision they hope brings a little closure to VanderHeyden's family and friends.

"I think we'd all like to know what really happened. There's still a lot of holes in the story. And we feel for the family that they'll never truly know what happened, but hopefully they'll have some closure now," Hale said.