Donald J. Burns, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.
from Grant Circuit Court. The Honorable Mark E. Spitzer,
Judge. Cause No. 27C01-1310-MR-5
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Joseph P. Hunter Muncie, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Gregory F. Zoeller Attorney General of
Indiana J.T. Whitehead Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis,
Sharpnack, Senior Judge
of the Case
Donald Burns appeals his convictions for murder, a felony,
counts of forgery, as Class C felonies,  theft as a Class
D felony,  and two counts of receiving stolen
property, as Class D felonies. He also was found to be an
habitual offender. He alleges the trial court abused its
discretion when it admitted certain photographs at trial, and
that there is insufficient evidence of his intent to kill the
victim to support a conviction of murder. We affirm.
Burns raises the following restated issues for our review:
I. Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it
admitted into evidence photographs of the victim's
II. Whether there was sufficient evidence of his intent to
kill the victim to support his conviction for murder.
and Procedural History
The facts most favorable to the verdict are as follows. Burns
was in financial straits in June of 2011. He had been served
an eviction notice for failure to pay fees associated with
his trailer and lot rental, and a disconnect warning for
failure to pay his utility bills. He no longer was engaged in
full-time employment, and instead worked sporadically
performing menial labor.
At some point on the day of June 13, 2011, Burns made contact
with his seventy-four-year-old aunt, Dorothy Hurd. Hurd left
her home with Burns, leaving a note for Robert
"Bob" King, a friend of hers, stating: "Bob[,
] I'll be back in a little bit. Went to the cemetery with
Little [Donnie]." Tr. p. 181. The cemetery was located
in Noblesville, Indiana, and was where her late husband as
well as Burns' deceased father (Hurd's brother) were
buried. Burns murdered Hurd and left her body in a thicket
just off an access road near the Mississinewa River in Grant
County in an area where Burns had fished in the past.
Later that evening, Burns used Hurd's credit card to
purchase three gold necklaces from the jewelry department at
Walmart (located in Marion, Indiana) and attempted a second
purchase from the jewelry counter which was rejected by the
card service. At 5:20 p.m. on that day, Burns pawned
Hurd's wedding ring set at the EZ Pawn located in Marion,
Indiana. He drove to his wife Janel Bishir's home in
Sweetser, Indiana, and left for her an envelope containing
(among other things) a greeting card, a ring belonging to
Hurd that had been given to Hurd by Bob King, and one of the
gold necklaces that had been purchased by Burns using
Hurd's credit card.
On June 14, 2011, when members of Hurd's family could not
reach her by telephone, they went to her home and found the
note Hurd had left taped to the side door window. They
checked the voicemail on her phone and heard a message from
Hurd's bank that some suspicious ...