Burris claims self defense in nephew’s murder

Published 11:30am Friday, July 11, 2014

Motion filed to suppress evidence

Michael Alan Burris pleaded not guilty Thursday in the murder of his nephew. He’s also claiming self defense and intoxication were factors, according to a notice of defense filed Thursday.

Michael Alan Burris, 65, pleaded not guilty during a contested omnibus hearing in Otter Tail County District Court to felony second-degree murder.

Also at issue Thursday was a motion from defense attorneys Tracy Mitchell and John Schmid to suppress evidence obtained as the result of two search warrants executed in July 2012 at Michael Alan Burris’ house.

The motion requests the court suppress phone records from March 15-May 30, 2012 for lack of probable cause, stating the records would result in the discovery of incriminating evidence. Other evidence the motion requested to suppress was a laptop, and a 40 caliber handgun and magazines. These items were not authorized by the search warrant, according to the motion.

“The state obviously does object to any suppression,” said Assistant Otter Tail County Attorney Michelle Eldien.

Three cellphones were taken as part of the search warrant, though only two have evidentiary value for the case, according to Eldien, who added that the laptop also has no value. Guns were seized at the house as part of the warrant and were not returned because of public safety issues, she said.

“There were a number of guns confiscated,” Eldien said.

Eldien filed two exhibits with the court Thursday: The application, search warrant and receipt of inventory dated July 9, 2012; and application, search warrant and receipt of inventory dated July 23, 2012.

The motion was taken under advisement by District Judge Waldemar Senyk. A decision will be made before the jury trial starts.The trial will likely be scheduled in late September or early October because of the large volume of evidence in the case and the schedules of attorneys in the case. Michael Alan Burris waived the speedy trial demand in February.

He remains in the Otter Tail County Jail on $1 million bail, set previously.

Michael Alan Burris is accused of murdering his nephew, Scott Burris, who died from a single gunshot wound in May 2012. Michael Kyle Burris, 24, is also charged in the case with felony aiding an offender-accomplice after the fact. He pleaded not guilty April 11.

The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office started its investigation in the case May 24, 2012, when an abandoned vehicle with blood inside was found north of Elizabeth. Scott Burris, 33, was listed as a missing person until he was found June 15, 2012 in the Otter Tail River west of Orwell Dam.

Michael Alan Burris allegedly asked his son to help move the body off the rocks next to the water at Orwell Dam. Michael Kyle Burris allegedly helped drop off the van on a minimum maintenance road and then helped push Scott Burris’ body into the river.

According to the criminal complaints, an inmate in the Otter Tail County Jail told authorities that around March 2012, Michael Kyle Burris said he and his dad killed his cousin because of a drug debt in which Scott Burris reportedly owed his uncle about $20,000.

Michael Alan Burris was arrested in August in Arizona, remained in Maricopa County Jail since his arrest and chose to fight extradition. He waived extradition last month and returned to Minnesota following the process of a Governor’s Warrant.

Michael Kyle Burris waived extradition in October and was returned to Minnesota. He had been in the Otter Tail County Jail, but was moved to another jail when his father returned. His next court appearance is Aug. 7.


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