Ala. Supreme Court denies appeal in Courtney Lockhart case; trial set for Nov. 8

Less than a month before trial, the Alabama Supreme Court has denied an appeal to change venue in the case of a Smiths Station, Ala., man accused of killing Auburn University student Lauren Burk.

Courtney Lockhart, 25, faces capital murder charges in connection with the March 4, 2008, death of Burk, 18. At a hearing last month, defense attorney Jeremy Armstrong told Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob A. Walker that he’d filed the appeal on behalf of Lockhart. Both Armstrong and Chief Assistant District Attorney Robbie Treese said at the time that regardless of the high court’s decision, they’d be ready for trial.

Defense lawyers say extensive media attention over the slaying of the Auburn freshman has tainted the jury pool, denying their client a fair trial in Lee County.

The Supreme Court filed an order Thursday denying the defense’s motion.

Lockhart is scheduled for trial Nov. 8. A status hearing is scheduled for Oct. 19.

Lockhart is charged with three counts of capital murder in the robbery, kidnapping and attempted rape of Burk. The Marietta, Ga., woman had a gunshot wound when she was found lying in the roadway of Ala. 147 between Lee Road 72 and U.S. 280. She died at the East Alabama Medical Center. Police later found her black 2001 Honda Civic burning in Auburn’s Hinton Field parking lot.

Authorities said Lockhart, who was 23 at the time, had a handgun when he forced Burk into her car, made her drive around and disrobe, then robbed her, shot her and left her to die.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report