Burch tells court Detrie killed Nicole VanderHeyden and forced him to dump body
George Burch, standing trial for the murder of Ledgeview woman Nicole VanderHeyden, took the witness stand Wednesday and accused VanderHeyden's boyfriend of killing the mother of three.
Burch testified for much of Day Eight of his murder trial. He told the court that Douglass Detrie attacked Burch and VanderHeyden while they were having sex outside her Ledgeview home. Burch says Detrie killed VanderHeyden and forced him at gunpoint to dump her body in a field off Hoffman Road in Bellevue.
Closing arguments are expected Thursday. The case then goes to the jury.
Burch, 40, is standing trial for 1st Degree Intentional Homicide for the death of VanderHeyden, a Ledgeview mother. VanderHeyden's body was found in a field, about three miles from her Ledgeview home, on May 21, 2016. A medical examiner testified that VanderHeyden was strangled and beaten to death.
Douglass Detrie was arrested shortly after the crime, but released 18 days later due to lack of evidence. Detrie has testified that he and Nicole went their separate ways after a concert at the Watering Hole in Green Bay. He said on the
She was last seen by a friend leaving the Sardine Can in downtown Green Bay.
Burch was arrested in September 2016 after testing showed his DNA was found on Nicole's body.
The defense started by by asking Burch about his childhood in Newport News, Virginia. He's adopted. He talks about playing football, basketball, and baseball during childhood. Burch says most people call him by his nickname "Big Country." The defense questions Burch about his high schools, jobs, chores, and relationship with his family.
He admits to being convicted of a five crimes. He testifies about crime and drugs taking over Newport News.
Burch says he is divorced from a woman Mary Beth. He says they couple moved from Virginia to New York to get a "fresh start" and away from people who were getting "stabbed" in his area.
Burch has two sons with his ex-wife. They are now ages 16 and 13.
Burch talks about meeting his friend Ed Jackson in New York. They bond over fishing.
Jackson and his wife let Burch stay at their Green Bay home. He describes Ed Jackson as a "father figure."
Burch and his wife move back to Virginia after his father has a heart issue. His father dies in 2014. Burch says his relationship with his wife deteriorates because of arguing. She moves out and takes the kids with her. They get a divorce.
Burch takes a train ride to Chicago where he's picked up by friend Ed Jackson. They drive to Green Bay where Ed lives. Burch says he knows three things about Green Bay: Packers, cheese, and beer.
After a lunch break, the defense begins asking questions about George Burch's life in Green Bay. He didn't have a job, but did chores for his friend and landlord, Ed Jackson.
He agrees to pay the Jacksons $100 a month in rent. He finds a job via craigslist: working at the Blackstone Diner on the city's east side. He says he's hired as a cook and a night manager. He agrees to work 50-55 hours a week. He says he takes on extra hours (75-80) when other employees quit or fail to show up for work.
Burch testifies about meeting his ex-girlfriend Jordan Schulyler at the Blackstone. He starts dating her after he leaves the Blackstone. Burch says he quit the job over the hours and pay.
Burch takes a job at NEW Landscaping. He says he borrows Ed Jackson's Chevy Blazer (The Blazer was later involved in a hit-and-run and vehicle fire.
) to drive to and from work.
The defense asks Burch about his visits to Richard Craniums bar in downtown Green Bay. It's a only a couple minutes by foot from the Jackson home. He's impressed that they remember his nickname, "Big Country", and his favorite drink. He meest people there, including
He says he later crashes on their couches after he's kicked out of the Jackson home.
The defense turns its questioning to May 20, 2016, and Burch's whereabouts leading up to the murder of Nicole VanderHeyden. Burch says he got up that morning at 5 a.m. He showers, drinks coffee and goes to work. He says he returns to the Jackson home at 5:30 p.m. to go to a fish fry with Ed and Lynda Jackson.
After dinner, the trio goes to Cellcom at the Bay Park Square mall to get a cell phone for Burch. The Jacksons add him to their phone plan. Burch says this is about 8:30 p.m. Burch says the group goes to a friend's home after the mall.
At about 11 p.m., Burch drives to Richard Craniums. He says that's where he met Nicole VanderHeyden at the bar. He said he noticed a "fairly attractive blonde woman" sitting next to him and he started talking to her. He says they talk about past marriages and kids.
Burch says they talk at Richard Craniums until bar close and then travel to the Jackson home. Ed Jackson's father is there. Burch says VanderHeyden invites him back to her place and gives him directions. He says he doesn't know at this point that she has a boyfriend.
Burch says they arrived at Nicole's home in Ledgeview and she tells him to pull over on the right. He says they don't go inside the home because a light was on and they thought the babysitter was awake. He says they start "fooling around" and "kissing" before moving to the backseat of the Blazer. He says things "escalate" and she starts removing her clothes.
Burch says he gets out of the vehicle because there's not enough room.
Burch says they have sex. The defense asks if he would describe it as "gentle intercourse."
"No sir," Burch replies.
Burch says the next thing he remembers is waking up on the ground outside the Blazer. He says he was in the grass/curb area. She says he doesn't remember how he got there. He says he's on the ground with his pants around his ankles and that he's "groggy."
Burch says he hears a voice saying "don't you even f---ing think about it." He says he looked over his shoulder and saw what looked like a man with a gun in his hand. He says it was dark, but the person was wearing a hooded sweatshirt. Burch believes the man had a handgun and that it was pointing in his direction.
He says the man with the gun orders him to move to the back end of the Blazer. He says he notices Nicole and blood is coming out of her mouth and on her back. He says she's on the street.
Burch testifies that he's told to pick up VanderHeyden from the street and put her in the vehicle. He says he remembers hearing a voice saying, "look what the f--- you made me do."
He testifies that he put VanderHeyden's body in the rear passenger side because the door was open. He says the man with the gun told him to get in the vehicle.
Burch says he sees the man's face for the first time. He says he didn't recognize the man then. He says he now knows the man to be Doug Detrie.
Burch says Detrie led him down a dirt road. He describes seeing trees and tall grass. Burch says Detrie was forcefully telling him where to go.
Burch says they stop in a field off Hoffman Road. He says Detrie tells him to grab Nicole and bring her out of the vehicle. Burch describes her as "dead weight."
Burch testifies that Detrie tells him to put VanderHeyden's body in a ditch.
Burch says he waits until Detrie looks away and he turns and lunges at him. He says he runs to the Blazer and takes off. Burch says he felt "fear and adrenaline" and was "freaked out."
Burch says he didn't know where he was, so he took his phone out and put in directions to get home. He says he noticed seeing "some stuff" of Nicole's in the Blazer. Burch testifies that he "freaked out" and tossed those items out the window.
Burch says he returned to the Jackson home and took a shower. He says he had blood on his hands from carrying Nicole's body. He washes his clothes because they are bloody, Burch says.
Burch testifies that his head was sore as if he had bumped it. There were no cuts or bruising, Burch says.
The defense asks Burch why he didn't call 911 to report the crime, or tell his friends about it. He says he was afraid to speak to police because he was on probation for Grand Larceny in Virginia. He worried about going back to prison for five years.
Burch says he should have told someone, but he comes from a place where informants get killed.
DEFENSE: "George Burch did you murder Nicole VanderHeyden?"
BURCH: "No sir, definitely not."
DEFENSE: "Do you know who did?"
BURCH: "Doug Detrie."
The defense ended its questioning and the state started cross-examination. District Attorney David Lasee asks Burch why, if he didn't do anything wrong, would he have to worry about violating his probation? Burch says he's not supposed to be in Wisconsin.
Lasee starts grilling Burch about his story. He asks Burch why Detrie would as a "complete stranger" to help dispose of Nicole's body.
The back and forth between Lasee and Detrie gets heated. Lasee asks Burch how he carried her body to the field. The defense objects to the line of questioning.
Lasee continues questioning Burch about what he did after he put VanderHeyden's body in the field. Burch says he lunged at Douglass Detrie and shoved him before running back to the Blazer.
Lasee asks Burch about using his phone to get directions to drive home. He asks Burch why he didn't use the phone to call police if he didn't know whether or not she was dead.
Lasee asks Burch why he got rid of VanderHeyden's items as they could have helped clear his name. Burch says he wasn't "thinking clearly."
Things again get heated between the DA and Burch. The judge interjects and reminds them both to wait for the full questions and responses.
Lasee says Burch gave VanderHeyden a ride home from the bar. The DA alleges Burch became angry when she turned down his advances. Burch says that isn't true.
Lasee says Burch drove around looking for a good place to put a body. Burch says, "no, sir."
Lasee then questions Burch about spending the next day on a fishing trip to Racine. Lasee asks how, after carrying the mangled body of a woman to her final resting place, Burch could go on a fishing trip without a care in the world. Burch says that it was a pre-planned event and he wouldn't say that he didn't have a care in the world.
That's where Day Eight testimony ended. Judge Zakowski excused the jury and announced Thursday would be for final witnesses, rebuttal witnesses, and closing arguments.
The judge will then give the jury instructions for deliberations.
The defense started Day Eight by calling Max Wilkinson to the stand. He recalled speaking to a friend of Douglass Detrie after the murder. Gregg Mathu, who was with Detrie the night of the murder, told Wilkinson that Detrie and VanderHeyden got into an argument and VanderHeyden walked home the night of the murder.
The next defense witness was Lisa Skaletsi. She lives in the Ledgeview neighborhood where Detrie and VanderHeyden lived together. She testifies that on the morning of May 21, 2016, she saw someone in Detrie's driveway talking on a phone.
The next witness is Donald Chic, a former Green Bay Police Officer. He lives in Ledgeview and knows Detrie. He says he drove by the Detrie/VanderHeyden home at 11 a.m. on May 21. He testifies that the garage was open and there were no vehicles in the garage. He notices a small SUV in the driveway. Chic remembers seeing a blonde woman with medium build there.
The next defense witness was Charles Valdes. He works for the public defender's office as an investigator. Valdes was questioned about valet keys. Valet keys can unlock the driver's side door of a car. The defense wants to show that it's possible Nicole VanderHeyden's vehicle was moved.
Jailhouse informants have written statements about their interactions with Burch in prison. The court will determine if these statements should be heard by the jury. The defense worries their statements may be "orchestrated" and the witnesses unreliable.
On Tuesday, the defense questioned Burch moving to a different cell with new cellmates before the start of the trial. They allege the state organized this move to put him in a cell with informants. The state calls this allegation "offensive."
The defense is also worried one of the inmates may cause a conflict-of-interest because someone on the defense team knows the "snitch." The defense argues that if that inmate testifies, they would have to withdraw themselves from the case.
Judge Zakowski said some statements would be inadmissible in court. He's questioning whether or not allowing the inmate testimony would lead to a mistrial. He allowed both sides to give him case law to present an argument.
Action 2 News reporters Andrea Hay and Brittany Schmidt are on Twitter providing real time updates from the courtroom. Follow