Cold case murder headed to trial

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  Both sides of the Kareem Lane case are expressing major concerns in the high profile proceedings. Lane is charged with killing former Muscogee County School Superintendent Jim Burns back in 1992.

The state wants to try Kareem Lane for murder in Columbus and they don't want information on the case getting out before he has his day in court.

Lane wife's has been very vocal about his innocence and she's set up different web sites and Facebook pages talking about his case and how it hasn't progressed, leaving him to sit in jail.

Lane was arrested last year and charged with the 1992 cold case murder after the state says they found new DNA evidence on the murder weapon that links him to the crime.

He was indicted earlier this month. Jim Burns was stabbed to death with a hunting knife inside his home downtown. Lane was a 17-year-old senior at Shaw High School at the time. A motive has never been revealed.

The judge says the court can't keep Lane's wife from having web sites that center around his case but all documents have been sealed so that copies of evidence don't end up online.

"Our concerns is that both sides- both the state and the defense get a fair trial. There's always evidentiary issues that come up that the court has to rule on. If that information is published in advance of a trial, before the court has an opportunity to rule on it, then of course that poses a problem to both sides," said the prosecutor, Senior Assistant District Attorney LaRae Moore.

"I share those same concerns with the state because we just want to make sure that whatever jury's picked, that they're fair and impartial to both sides," added Lane's defense attorney, Stacey Jackson.

Judge Bobby Peters says he wants to try the case this fall, in September or early October.

Kareem Lane is being held in the Muscogee County Jail on $750,000 bond. He's entered not guilty pleas to his murder charges. Lane is a former Marine and was a plant worker and soccer coach when he was arrested at his home in Pell City, AL in 2010. He was brought in for questioning the night of the murder because police say he was wearing clothes neighbors say matched that of someone leaving the Burns' house after the murder. He was never charged and moved away a few years later.

The state says the Burns family is extremely happy to see the case moving forward after all these years.

There is a gag order in the case, preventing all sides from talking about it with the media but on Friday, Judge Peters told the prosecution that the Burns family is allowed to make general statements about it.

On Saturday, Burns' wife, Stella Butler, released this statement: "My daughters and I are pleased that the prosecution is moving forward, and that the Court is working to protect the trial process. It has been a long and frustrating time of over eighteen years for us to wait on justice being served. It is impossible to express the effect that the murder of our loved husband, father and grandfather has had and continues to have on this family. Kareem Lane's family can visit him in prison, but we will not see Jim again in this life. We will not be commenting on the trial process, as that job rests with the authorities, but we are confident of a conviction and look forward to that day."

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