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David Anthony Burns pleads ‘not guilty’ of murder of Courtney Coco

Pre-trial set for Aug. 11 in Rapides Parish Courthouse
Published: Apr. 23, 2021 at 12:17 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - David Anthony Burns, 43 of Boyce, pleaded “not guilty” to second degree murder Friday morning for the 2004 death of 19-year-old Courtney Coco.

Coco’s body was found in an abandoned building in Winnie, Texas in Oct. 2004. According to reports, she was last seen by her mother about two days before at her home on West Sandy Bayou. The case was ruled a homicide, but sat largely cold until an arrest was made following an indictment April 13. Public interest was reignited in part due to a podcast by Woody Overton called “Real Life Real Crime.”

At his arraignment, Burns was assigned public defender Chris LaCour. But, Burns told Judge Greg Beard he was hiring an attorney in Baton Rouge. It wasn’t clear who exactly that was, because he was unsure of the name and no one had enrolled on his behalf yet.

Coco’s mother, grandmother, aunts, cousin and other family sat in the front row of the courtroom, as did Overton.

After he entered his plea, Burns told Judge Beard, “As of yesterday, my physical body was murdered.” He was quickly ushered out.

Coco’s mother, Stephanie Belgard, talked outside about how emotional the day was for the family.

“It’s like a breath of fresh air,” she said. “We have waited 16 and a half years to get to this point. And, it’s a step in the right direction.”

On Saturday, Belgard will host a victim’s rights walk in downtown Alexandria starting at the Holocaust memorial at 10 a.m. She and her family have been fundamental in the fight for justice for other victims of crime. Belgard said, this year, the walk will mean even more.

“I’m going to have more spring in my step this year,” she said. “I will always help families whether I have an arrest or not. I just feel like it’s a way for me to get Courtney the justice I promised her 16 and a half years ago.”

Burns remains behind bars on a $500,000 bond. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant District Attorney Hugo Holland. A pre-trial is set for Aug. 11.

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