Attorney gets more time to appeal Trumbull murder conviction, cites ‘seismic’ supreme-court ruling

Staff report


An attorney for a convicted killer appears to believe a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling has the potential to overturn some of of his client’s convictions.

Atty. Rhys Cartwright-Jones this week asked the 11th District Court of Appeals to grant him additional time to file Austin Burke’s appeal, which the court did, giving Burke and his attorney until Aug. 6.

Burke, 19, was sentenced in March to 47 years to life in prison for killing a city man last summer in the Grand River wildlife area of Bristol Township and committing a separate armed robbery.

In his request, Cartwright-Jones alluded to a June 22 U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding use of cellphone data in criminal cases.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said in his majority opinion the court will no longer allow the state “unrestricted access to a [cellphone] carrier’s database of physical location information.”

Prosecutors used such data in the Burke case to show jurors the travels of Burke’s cellphone the morning they believe Burke killed Brandon Sample, 22, in a remote area of the wildlife area. Sample’s body was found there several days later.

Prosecutors say that because Burke told several people that he had killed Sample, the ruling on the use of cell- phone data won’t change the appeals court’s opinion of Burke’s convictions.

But Cartwright-Jones said the top court’s ruling was a “seismic event” in U.S. law regarding warrantless searches to obtain data about the location of cellphones collected by cellphone towers.

“Additional time and especially careful drafting and research is appropriate insofar as this issue could dispose of Burke’s murder conviction,” the defense lawyer said.

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