Suspect on trial in 2016 Highland Lakes murder

COLUMBIANA – The murder trial of Adam Michael Burrus continued into a second week on Monday, May 13.

Burrus

The trial began a week earlier, on May 6. Closing arguments could be heard on Tuesday, May 14, after which the 12-person jury could reach a verdict. Visit ShelbyCountyReporter.com for updates.

Burrus, 39, was charged with the December 2016 murder of 37-year-old Constance Leigh Woolweaver at her home in Highland Lakes.

Police described the two as long-time friends and business partners, and the shooting as a “crime of passion” and not pre-meditated.

Burrus was arrested the day after the killing and released from the Shelby County Jail on Dec. 19, 2016, on a $500,000 bond.

A grand jury returned an indictment against Burrus on Oct. 18, 2017, and the defendant pleaded not guilty on Nov. 28, 2017.

Among the witnesses in Courtroom 5 of the Shelby County Courthouse, with Judge William H. Bostick III presiding, were forensics experts who studied the crime scene and evidence procured from it.

Janice M. Johnson, president and owner of Forensic Pieces and formerly of the state of Florida and the FBI, testified that she visited the crime scene for a visual examination and analysis of fingerprints and other evidence.

Fingerprints did not positively identify a perpetrator, Johnson said but noted that type of evidence is no longer as helpful, as DNA evidence has become more prevalent.

“Not everybody leaves good fingerprints,” she said. “If you’re wearing gloves, of course you won’t leave any fingerprints.”

Johnson said she and investigators with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office used lasers to determine the path of bullets fired during the incident.

Johnson’s colleague, Jeff Goudeau, meanwhile, testified that he was able to determine the type of gun that fired bullets recovered from the scene.

“I’ve never seen the level of agreement that I saw in this case and it not be the same gun,” said Goudeau, the crime scene and firearms supervisor for the Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory.

The defendant’s attorney, Michael D. Blalock, questioned the validity of the experts’ findings, questioning them about their credentials and procedures.

“It’s like one radiologist could look at an MRI and say you have a herniated disc and another could look at the same MRI and say you don’t have a herniated disc—that could happen in your business?” Blalock said to Goudeau, who answered that such differing opinions would be “rare.”

Shelby County Sheriff John Samaniego previously said investigators developed Burrus as a person of interest on the morning of Dec. 15, 2016, and contacted him at his business in Sterrett.

Burrus willingly met with investigators, who determined probable cause and procured search warrants for Burrus’ home, business and vehicle.

After searches were completed, Burrus was charged with murder and booked into the Shelby County Jail.

There was no evidence of forced entry at the residence, Samaniego said, and the victim was found near the entryway.