Detrie returns to witness stand for day four of Burch murder trial

Douglass Detrie resumes testifying at George Burch's murder trial on February 22, 2018. (Photo credit: Pool)

BROWN COUNTY (WLUK) -- Douglass Detrie resumed testifying on the witness stand for the start of day four of George Burch's murder trial.

Burch, 40, is charged with the May 2016 murder of Detrie's girlfriend, 31-year-old Nicole VanderHeyden.

The 36-year-old Detrie, who lived with VanderHeyden and is the father of the youngest of her three children, was originally arrested for the murder. Detrie was never charged and was released from jail after 18 days.

The prosecution and defense spent less than an hour questioning Detrie before the judge excused him from the witness stand.

The defense resumed its cross examination from Wednesday with going over the timeline of the day after Detrie became separated from VanderHeyden during a night of partying with friends.

Detrie testified to calling police about VanderHeyden missing at 4:30 p.m., 17 hours after he last saw her at a concert at the Watering Hole.

At one point, Detrie told the defense that he took a shower before talking to police. Defense attorney Lee Schuchart responded by saying, "you wanted to hide any evidence that you were involved with her murder." After an objection, Detrie did not provide a response.

On Wedensday, Detrie testified to not having any role in VanderHeyden's death.

Detrie's testimony on the witness stand started on the third day of the trial, just before lunch.

Detective Lee Kingston, of the Green Bay Police Department, followed Detrie on the witness stand.

Kingston testified to talking with Detrie about 12 hours after a body, similar to VanderHeyden's, was found in a Bellevue field, three miles from the couple's home. Kingston said Detrie broke down in tears when hearing the similarities between the body and VanderHeyden.

"He became upset, cried," said Kingston. "In my opinion, acted appropriately to that situation."

Deputy Jason Katers, of the Brown County Sherriff's Department, also testified to interviewing Detrie.

"I would say his demeanor was concerned," said Katers. "It seemed like he wanted to provide as much information as possible to find Nicole."

Katers said he was looking for any injuries on Detrie's hands and arms to determine if he had any role in VanderHeyden's dissappeanrance. Katers says he did not find any.

Baeleigh Larson and Kurt Meier, forensic specialists with Green Bay Police, both testified. They went over a series of pictures that were taken from inside and outside the home Detrie shared with VanderHeyden. The pictures included tems that were taken in as evidence. Larson and Meier both testified to not finding a handgun or sawed-off shotgun in the home.

Matthew Peterson, a NWTC biology instructor who lives across the street from Detrie, was the sixth person of the day to testify. Peterson testified to finding a significant amount of blood and a cord while mowing his lawn on the day VanderHeyden's body was found three miles from his home.

"I decided that blood was probably from an animal," Peterson said of why he did not initially call police.

Peterson says he decided to call police about what he found after seeing news reports that the nearby body discovery could be his neighbor, VanderHeyden.

Another neighbor, Paul Neuenfeldt, testified to running past a pool of blood on the road on the day VanderHeyden's body was discovered. He also thought it was from an animal.

Retired Brown County Sheriff's Department Sgt Monica Janke testified to collecting evidence on road and in Peterson's yard. In addition to blood and cord, Janke testified to finding hair and hairpins.

Janke testified to helping execute the search warrant of Detrie's home. She says she noticed a strong smell of a cleaning solution, however, she does not believe it was bleach. Earlier, Larson and Meier testified to not smelling any sort of odor in Detrie's home.

Marc Shield, who works narcotics for the Brown County Sheriff's Department, was the 10th and final witness of the day to testify.

Shield testified to finding marijuana and a pipe during the execution of the search warrant of Detrie's home.

On Tuesday, Dallas Kennedy, who was babysitting for Detrie and VanderHeyden on night of her murder, testified to Detrie smoking her marijuana when returning home after bar close. Detrie testified that he could not remember if he smoked marijuana that night.

Case Background

Burch was arrested almost four months after VanderHeyden’s beaten body was discovered in a Bellevue farm field, three miles from her home.

Prosecutors say Burch’s DNA was found on VanderHeyden’s body, sock, and other murder evidence found near VanderHeyden’s home.

Burch’s defense attorneys have indicated they plan to have Burch testify at trial, so they can accuse Detrie of the crime.

Investigators have said Detrie and VanderHeyden were out drinking with friends in the hours before her murder. The couple fought about infidelity issues, and became separated, according to investigators.

Burch, who moved to the Green Bay area from Virginia shortly before the murder, has claimed he met VanderHeyden for the first time on the night of her murder at a bar on Broadway in Green Bay.

Burch says he drove VanderHeyden home, where they became intimate in the backseat of his vehicle. Burch says Detrie came outside, discovered the two together, and knocked Burch out. When Burch gathered himself, he says he discovered Detrie standing over VanderHeyden’s bloodied and unconscious body. Burch says Detrie forced him at gunpoint to help him dispose of the body in the Bellevue field.

Prosecutors say Detrie’s Fitbit clears him of Burch’s scenario of what happened. The Fitbit shows Detrie was sleeping and took very few steps during the time the murder allegedly took place, according to prosecutors.

Judge John Zakowski has ruled that prosecutors can introduce some Fitbit evidence at trial. Prosecutors can show how many steps Detrie took the night of the murder, however, they cannot introduce the sleep evidence. Zakowski made that stipulation, citing pending lawsuits that question the reliability of Fitbit’s sleep records.

Zakowski is also allowing evidence from Burch’s cellphone to be presented at trial, despite defense attempts to have it excluded.

Investigators say Burch provided Green Bay Police written consent to download information from his phone during a separate hit-and-run investigation, a few weeks after VanderHeyden’s murder. The Brown County Sheriff’s Department obtained that information from Green Bay Police three months later, after DNA on VanderHeyden’s body came back as a match for Burch.

Burch’s attorneys argued the sheriff’s department should have obtained a warrant for those cell phone records, and that the sheriff department’s request went beyond the scope of the investigation the data was originally acquired for.

Prosecutors have said the information from Burch’s cellphone is key because geolocation data pings Burch’s cellphone to the Broadway bar where VanderHeyden was last seen alive, outside her home, and the Bellevue Field.

Judge Zakowski also ruled the defense will not be able to bring up an open domestic abuse case involving Detrie and VanderHeyden’s younger sister.

Detrie is charged with second degree recklessly endangering safety, false imprisonment and disorderly conduct.

Prosecutors allege that Detrie and Heather Meyer were together in a car in Allouez in February. Meyer told police Detrie touched her leg in a sexual manner. When she objected, Detrie sped off and would not let her out of the car. She tried to get out of the moving vehicle, but could not, until he eventually stopped several miles down the road.

Detrie is due back in court on March 23rd.

As for Burch, he has faced a murder charge before in Virginia. In June 1998, a jury found a then 20-year-old Burch not guilty of a gang-related killing.

Burch’s trial in the death of VanderHeyden is scheduled to last two weeks.

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