Man convicted of killing Auburn student from Marietta appeals death sentence

A man sentenced to death row for the kidnapping and killing of an Auburn University student from Marietta in 2008 has filed an appeal for a new trial, Channel 2 Action News reported Friday.

Courtney Lockhart, a U.S. Army veteran from Smith Station, Ala., was convicted in 2011 for the murder of Lauren Burk, who was 18 years old and a college freshman.

Lockhart was found guilty of forcing her to undress before shooting her in the back when she tried to jump out of her moving car March 4, 2008. She was found a few miles from Auburn’s campus and died later that night at East Alabama Medical Center.

Burk’s Honda Civic was found burning shortly afterward at the Hinton Field parking lot near a dormitory on campus. Lockhart was arrested three days later in Phenix City, Ala.

Defense attorney Jeremy Armstrong (right) talks with Courtney Lockhart as they prepare to hear the verdict in 2011. (Photo: Robin Trimarchi, Ledger-Enquirer)

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According to a letter from the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, Lockhart is now filing for a new trial, claiming his defense attorney, Jeremy Armstrong, gave such an inadequate defense that he deserves another chance, Channel 2 reported.

Jim Burk, Lauren’s father, told the news station he’s furious that Lockhart is trying to appeal and get out of his death sentence.

Jim Burk (Photo: Channel 2 Action News)

“Oh, it’s made me sad and nervous and upset and confused altogether,” Burk said. “My goal is to make sure he gets nothing that he wants.”

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In 2011, Lockhart was sentenced to life without parole by a Lee County, Ala., jury, but the judge decided to overrule the jury and sentenced Lockhart to death.

“And for him to be able to sit in that cell every day and think about his life ending one day like my daughter’s did, it gives me some sort of comfort,” Burk told Channel 2.

Lauren Burk graduated from Walton High School in 2007 and was a member of Delta Gamma sorority at Auburn.

Lockhart’s hearing will be Dec. 17 in Alabama.

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