(WKBN) – The Ohio Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeal of Austin Burke, who was convicted of murder in Trumbull County.
Burke appealed to the higher court after a Trumbull County judge denied him a new trial.
Burke had cited issues of ineffective counsel, alleged jury misconduct and alleged witness malfeasance in his motion, but Judge Andrew Logan ruled that he failed to establish substantive grounds for relief.
Burke is serving a life prison sentence with parole eligibility after 47 years for the killing of 22-year-old Brandon Sample in Bristolville in 2019.
He also received an additional 11-year prison sentence for a shank that officers found inside his jail cell.
In the Supreme Court’s decision, Justice Michael J. Donnelly dissented with a written opinion joined by Justice Jennifer Brunner.
According to that opinion, Burke submitted the affidavits of six other people, none of whom appear to have testified at his trial. Among the many issues raised in those affidavits is whether a different person had confessed to committing the murder for which Burke was convicted.
The dissenting justices felt that an evidentiary hearing should have been held. They say rather than ordering a statutorily required hearing to test the veracity of the facts alleged, the court conducted an in-camera review of the juvenile-detention records relating to the alternative suspect.
The court did not allow the state or the defense to review those materials, according to their opinion. The trial court similarly rejected every other affidavit as “problematic” and denied Burke’s petition for postconviction relief without first holding an evidentiary hearing.
They were overruled by the other justices, though, who declined jurisdiction in the matter.
Burke will be 77 years old before he’s eligible for parole.