It would have been much more surprising if Greg Burroughs’ attorney had not filed a motion to change venue than the fact that he did, so we have no issue with that.
We have reported this story from every angle available and it’s been on the front page a few dozen times. And, yes, we’ve written numerous editorials and columns about the case, in which Burroughs was charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of 23-year-old Katherine Sinclair … Yet still, we challenge anyone who says we have “tried and convicted” Burroughs on these pages.
There’s a simple explanation for why the coverage has tilted toward Sinclair: Her loved ones and defenders have talked to us, along with some sources ‘“in the know” about the investigation and the history of the Burroughs family and local law enforcement. The only comment Burroughs ever made to us was to say that he didn’t think he was being treated fairly. We’ve reached out to his attorneys, too, and they haven’t talked. And no one has reached out to us to defend his actions (or inaction) that night or his character, on or off the record. (We’re still open to that, by the way.)
Our beef, from the beginning, has been with the undeniable special treatment for someone whose behavior and inconsistent stories were suspicious enough to warrant an investigation by people who weren’t afraid to get to the truth … which could be ugly for both sides.
Our reporting on this story has been solid. We can’t control what the reaction of the general public is to the information that we put out. When well-known businessman Chris Posey and ex-city attorney David Ratcliff signed affidavits that say Burroughs can’t get a “fair and impartial trial in Jones County,” that wasn’t a shot at us, that was a shot at you, the readers.
Attorneys have two distinct ways of thinking about change of venue for trial. One is, “If you can’t get a fair trial in your own backyard, where can you?” The other is, “If it does go out of town, the jurors must be saying to themselves, ‘Gosh, what did this guy do? It must’ve been really bad.’”
But, again, we get why Burroughs’ attorney Tracy Klein is asking for the trial to go elsewhere. As we’ve written in this space before, it would border on suspicious if he didn’t.
This case deserves a thorough, unbiased investigation and trial by professionals who aren’t afraid of what they may find. The law, like the Lord above, is not supposed to be a “respecter of persons.” That’s the approach we’ve asked for from the beginning.
What we will continue to call out, though, is those who are in positions of power trying to influence the outcome. It’s come to our attention that one of Burroughs’ immediate family members is on an intense campaign to solicit other influential people to write letters to the judge on the suspect’s behalf. That’s fine. But the would-be letter-writers need to be made aware that their letters will become part of the court file and we will make them public.