Closing arguments set for Monday in Huntsville church double murder case

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Terry and Anthony Jackson were killed at West Huntsville United Methodist Church on May 21, 2013. They were stabbed to death as they opened the church's food pantry.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Both sides have rested in the double murder trial of Richard Burgin, who is charged in the May 2013 stabbing deaths of two elderly brothers working at the food bank at West Huntsville United Methodist Church.

The defense rested Friday afternoon without calling any witnesses.

Jurors spent part of Friday visiting the crime scene off 9th Avenue in Huntsville and the neighborhood around it at the request of the prosecution. About a block from the church, a Huntsville Police Department K-9 unit found a cup with Burgin’s DNA on it on May 21, 2013, the day Anthony and Terry Jackson were killed.

Near the cup, the police dog found in a bush a knife with traces of the DNA of the victims. In another bush, the dog found a church bulletin with his fingerprints on it and a rag with blood from one of the victims.

The defense has highlighted the lack of “cross contamination” in the items. Defense attorneys Larry Marsili and Chad Morgan point out Burgin’s DNA is not on the knife and there’s no blood – despite a grim and bloody crime scene – on the church bulletin or cup.

Richard Burgin at the Madison County Courthouse, May 3, 2017.

Jurors also heard jail phone calls between Burgin and his girlfriend. On one of the calls she described telling police that he came home one day with a scratch and told investigators she recalled him saying he’d stabbed somebody.

But she also expressed confusion in recounting those details to Burgin during the phone call, suggesting the stabbing reference didn’t happen at the time the brothers were killed, but at another time.

The defense, which says the state’s evidence falls short, rested without calling any witnesses.

Closing arguments will be Monday in Madison County Circuit Judge Karen Hall’s courtroom.

If Burgin is convicted, the jury will then be asked to decide if he should get life in prison without parole or the death penalty.

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