Judge grants bond reduction for suspect charged with the death of Courtney Coco
Pretrial motions hearing set for June 29
ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Judge Mary Doggett has granted a motion filed by the public defender representing David Anthony Burns to re-urge a bond reduction, deciding to reduce it from $500,000 to $250,000.
Burns is charged with second-degree murder for the 2004 death of 19-year-old Courtney Coco of Alexandria.
Coco’s body was found in an abandoned building in Winnie, Texas in October 2004. Detectives said she was strangled and believe that her body was wrapped in her comforter, then dumped in Texas. The comforter was never found. A week after her body was found, her car was located in Houston.
Prosecutors believe Burns killed Coco during an attempted simple robbery, but it was not his intent to kill her.
Burns was arrested in April 2021 after the Alexandria Police Department (APD) presented the case to the Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office, believing they had enough evidence to finally make an arrest after locating a witness in Texas. Det. Tanner Dryden, the APD detective who made the arrest in the case, shared that while reviewing the case, he came across a Texas case file that included information about the possible witness.
In her reasoning for her ruling to reduce Burns’ bond, Judge Doggett cited arguments made by attorney Christopher LaCour about DNA found on the latch of Coco’s car trunk. LaCour told the court that DNA previously tested in 2004 came back inconclusive but police retested the DNA and the results came back several months ago, and they were able to tie that DNA to a different individual, whose identity was not publically disclosed. LaCour also argued that statements made by the witness in Texas, who picked Burns out of a line-up and claimed to have seen Coco’s car leaving the abandoned building where her body was found, were “contradictory statements.”
“I do a lot of murder cases, you’ve got to have something on the man,” said LaCour. “It’s serious, but I think he deserves some sort of bond.”
However, LaCour was unable to get Judge Doggett to suppress the affidavit that the witness in Texas gave to authorities after he spotted Coco’s vehicle.
“I’m going to let those issues go to the weight of the evidence and let the jury decide,” said Judge Doggett.
Special Assistant District Attorney Hugo Holland said he was still confident in the state’s case against Burns, referencing information we learned at a previous hearing that Burns allegedly told five people he killed Coco.
LaCour argued the statements Burns is alleged to have made to the five people are hearsay.
“Get them here (the witnesses),” said LaCour. “Let’s see what they have to say.”
“When I look at this, it is what it is. I’ve got enough to move forward. Courtney deserves a trial,” said Holland. “He’s telling people he killed her by strangling her. I should be able to produce evidence from his own mouth that he killed Courtney Coco.”
More pretrial motions are set for June 29. A trial is set for Aug. 8.
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