Near the 20th anniversary of the homicide that rattled Columbus and spawned multiple conspiracy theories, the man accused of fatally stabbing then-school superintendent Jim Burns is expected finally to go to trial.
Superior Court Judge Bobby Peters has set Sept. 4, the Tuesday after Labor Day, for Kareem Lane to face charges of stabbing Burns in the superintendent’s 620 Broadway home on Oct. 19, 1992.
Finding an intruder in his second-floor bedroom, Burns fought with the burglar and chased him downstairs, where the superintendent collapsed and bled to death in his open doorway, the knife on the floor beside him.
Though not as brutal as other cold cases such as the 1985 bush-ax murders of eight months’ pregnant Ann Curry and her two children — for which husband and father Michael Curry was convicted last year — Burns’ homicide remains notorious because he was a controversial figure whose management of the school district made powerful enemies.
His stabbing sparked rumors he was assassinated.
Despite the myriad wild tips and dead-end leads, cold-case investigators kept their focus on the man they detained and questioned the night Burns was killed.
Lane, then a 17-yearold Shaw High School student, was pulled over on Macon Road in a pickup truck matching the description witnesses gave police after seeing a pickup leave Front Avenue, just a block from Burns’ home, soon after the 12:20 a.m. incident.
Officers said they found an empty knife sheath in the vehicle, yet they released Lane later that same day.Lane went on to graduate from Shaw, serve in the Marine Corps, record original music and move to Pell City, Ala., where he worked for an auto parts supplier.
In 2008, cold-case investigators got a saliva sample from Lane, and they say the National Medical Services laboratory in Willow Grove, Pa., matched Lane’s DNA profile to cells found on the knife used to kill Burns. They arrested Lane on May 3, 2010, at his home in Pell City.
Lane is being held in the Muscogee County Jail on a $750,000 bond. His defense attorney is Stacey Jackson. Assistant District Attorney LaRae Moore, who has announced her intent to run for Superior Court judge this year, will prosecute the case.
Potential jurors for the trial are to fill out a questionnaire and submit it to the court two weeks before Aug. 20, when jury selection is to begin, Peters said.
Jim Mustian contributed to this report.