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Judge denies defense motion that argued that Courtney Coco may not have been killed in Rapides Parish

David Anthony Burns will be in court on May 11 on a defense motion to suppress and to re-urge a bond reduction
A Rapides Parish judge has denied a defense motion that argued that Courtney Coco may not have been killed in Rapides Parish.
Published: Apr. 11, 2022 at 3:51 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 11, 2022 at 4:12 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - A Rapides Parish judge has denied a motion by defense attorneys for David Anthony Burns, 46 of Boyce, to quash his second-degree murder indictment based off a belief that 19-year-old Courtney Coco may not have been killed in Rapides Parish.

On Monday, Judge Mary Doggett heard testimony from Det. Tanner Dryden with the Alexandria Police Department, the detective who arrested Burns in April 2021 for the 2004 death of Coco. Coco was found dead in an abandoned building in Winnie, Texas on Oct. 4, 2004. Her car was later found in Houston. Prosecutors allege Burns killed Coco during an attempted simple robbery, but that he didn’t intend to kill her.

Det. Dryden told the court that the Alexandria Police Department has no evidence to believe that Coco was killed outside of Rapides Parish or in Winnie, Texas. When asked by Special Assistant District Attorney Hugo Holland about that belief, Det. Dryden told the court, “It appeared to be a lack of evidence to prove she was killed in Texas... the way her body was posed... and a lack of evidence in the warehouse.”

Det. Dryden said there was a layer of dust on the floor of the warehouse that had been disturbed by tire trails.

Det. Dryden said the last place that the police department can put Coco as being alive was in Rapides Parish, and that more than one witness told police that. He believes Coco was killed in her home in Alexandria and that her car was used to transport her body. Inside of her home, Det. Dryden said Coco’s mattress was flipped, her comforter was missing, and a locked box under her bed had been broken into.

Holland asked if any biological evidence was found in the trunk.

“It was a small amount,” Det. Dryden told the court.

Det. Dryden said that the outer trunk latch was currently being tested.

Det. Dryden said phone records show Coco’s phone being used in Rapides Parish, and then several days later being used in Houston. He said he believes Coco was already dead when the phone was used in Houston.

“Is there any evidence that Courtney Coco was alive in Houston?” asked Holland.

“No,” replied Det. Dryden.

Defense attorney Chad Guillot repeatedly asked Det. Dryden what evidence, other than the missing comforter and her house being in disarray, did the State have to prove that Coco was killed in Rapides Parish.

Det. Dryden said that the evidence in the house shows a “struggle.”

“Is it possible that it could have been a burglary?” asked Guillot.

“It is possible,” said Det. Dryden.

Later, Det. Dryden told the court that five people that he spoke to said they heard Burns confess, and the five also said he gave a location of her house as the murder location.

Based on the evidence and the testimony, Judge Doggett denied the defense’s motion to quash the indictment based off of improper venue. Burns will next be in court on May 11 for two other defense motions - one urging Judge Doggett to reconsider reducing Burns’ $500,000 bond, and another to suppress a suspect line-up used by the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office that a witness in Texas picked Burns from. The witness is supposed to be subpoenaed for the hearing.

Burns is also represented by Christopher LaCour. Assistant District Attorney Brian Mosley is assisting Holland with the case.

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