The man convicted of murdering Wisconsin mother Nicole VanderHeyden was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The sentencing hearing of George Burch happened on Friday in Green Bay.
Jurors found him guilty in March. Burch, a five-time convict at the time of VanderHeyden’s death, testified that they first met at a bar, and later had sex in a vehicle when a man attacked them. In this tale, VanderHeyden was killed, and Burch escaped. The real murderer was supposedly the victim’s live-in boyfriend Douglass Detrie.
This story did not convince jurors. Burch killed VanderHeyden, they said. Prosecutors argued that the victim’s body showed signs of being sexually assaulted. Their explanation: The sex wasn’t consensual. Burch became mad that he wasn’t going to get any, and lashed out. VanderHeyden was beaten so bad her jaw was fractured, she sustained defensive injuries, and she was strangled with a cord.
Cross-examination of the defendant was often testy, with Burch insisting that his story was the “truth.” He defended his decision to not call 911 about his allegation because he was on probation for a grand larceny conviction in Virginia, and was concerned about getting sent to prison.
Detrie’s boyfriend had been a suspect in the case, and was even arrested before investigators set their sights on Burch. Authorities used Fitbit data to substantiate his alibi. He testified he wasn’t with VanderHeyden the night she died, and that he never found her when looking for her later. Babysitter Dallas Kennedy, who was taking care of VanderHeyden’s and Detrie’s child, testified that he in fact told her over the phone that the victim had hit her head, and wanted to walk home.
[Screengrab via Law&Crime Network]