Following last-minute filings, murder trial for Monday postponed

Staff report


The Austin T. Burke aggravated-murder trial that was supposed to start Monday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court has been postponed while the parties discuss eight new, last-minute motions filed by Burke’s attorney.

Instead, the parties will have a pretrial hearing Monday morning to discuss the motions, courthouse personnel said Friday.

Burke, 19, of Bristolville, is charged with the June 14 aggravated murder and aggravated robbery of Brandon Sample, 22, and the June 21 aggravated robbery of the Pizza Joe’s restaurant in Cortland.

Burke is accused of killing Sample in a wooded area off Peck Leach Road in the Grand River wildlife refuge in Bristol Township and leaving his body there.

Chris Becker, assistant county prosecutor, filed a motion Friday asking for the postponement, partly because of issues raised by Burke’s attorney regarding the location where the murder Burke is accused of committing occurred.

Atty. Bradley Olson Jr. asked last week that the aggravated murder charge against Burke be dismissed because he says there’s no proof of where the crime occurred.

Becker suggested in a written response that prosecutors will be able to show where Sample died, but it may require the testimony of Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk, Trumbull County coroner, who is currently hospitalized.

“It is unclear when he will be released from the hospital,” Becker said in his filing.

Shelley Mazanetz, an investigator with the coroner’s office, said she did not feel it was appropriate to comment on the nature of Germaniuk’s illness.

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