VERDICT: David Anthony Burns found guilty of Oct. 2004 murder of Courtney Coco
Sentencing set for November 28 at 9:30 a.m. in the Rapides Parish Courthouse
ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - A Rapides Parish jury has found David Anthony Burns, 46 of Boyce, guilty of second-degree murder for the October 2004 death of Courtney Coco, 19 of Alexandria.
The jury deliberated for about an hour and a half before reaching its unanimous “guilty” verdict. Coco’s family cried as the verdict was read. Burns shook his head.
“It was music to my ears,” said Stephanie Belgard, Coco’s mother, through tears. “I can just hear all the angels singing in heaven. I’m just so happy and sad. I did it all for her. She deserved it.”
For the district attorney’s office, it was a long road to get here - 18 years in the making.
“The best thing that I can say is that it was an extremely difficult case. We knew it from the outset,” said District Attorney Phillip Terrell. “This is a case we inherited when we came into office eight years ago, nearly nine years ago now. We chose not to be pushed by politics, not to be pushed by the media, not to be pushed by the family into proceeding at the pace that other people wanted us to go. We didn’t bow to politics or public opinion. We did this in what we felt was the right way. We investigated it the right way.”
Arguments in the trial for Burns began last Thursday, Oct. 27. The State presented witnesses for nearly three full days before resting on Monday morning. The defense called one witness before resting.
Defense attorney Christopher LaCour said he was surprised by the verdict.
“It was a gut punch,” said LaCour. “If you have been sitting in this trial, there was one inconsistent statement, after inconsistent statement, after inconsistent statement. But, I believe that the sympathy of the family and them crying, I believe this was a sympathy verdict. I think some of those jurors had their minds made up. If you sat in this trial, the main witness said himself what he saw was a week before when we knew she was still alive, not the Sunday before her body was found. He literally testified to that. They ignored that. And, another witness who said, I think I saw that on October 3. It was just one inconsistent statement after another. Multiple suspects. Him confessing, those statements, were from 11 years ago. He was not indicted then.”
Belgard said she is grateful to the jury for bringing justice for the family.
“I want to tell them thank you for looking at this with open eyes and ears and hearts and doing the right thing,” she said.
She also expressed her thanks to the district attorney’s office, former Alexandria Police Department Det. Tanner Dryden and Woody Overton, the man who led a podcast “Real Life Real Crime: Who murdered Courtney Coco?” - which reignited interest in the case.
Burns will be sentenced on Nov. 28 at 9:30 a.m. Hugo Holland and Johnny Giordano prosecuted the case for the State. Burns was represented by Christopher LaCour and Willie Stephens. Judge Mary Doggett presided.
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