Trial starts in 25-year-old homicide case
By Ruth Ann Krause Post-Tribune correspondent September 26, 2011 5:42PM
Updated: September 26, 2011 9:48PM
The mother of a woman killed 25 years ago recalled for Lake Superior Court jurors what she heard on the morning her daughter was killed by a shotgun blast.
Linda Oliver, a mother of seven, said she recalled her daughter, Vicky Burns, yelling hysterically from her upstairs bedroom. “Mama, here comes Larry with some guns,” Oliver said.
Larry Burns, 60, who was arrested in July 2010 by U.S. marshals and Long Beach, Calif., police, has pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder charges filed after the May 23, 1986, homicide of Vicky Burns and the attempted murder of his mother-in-law.
Oliver said her daughter married Burns in 1979. The couple separated in March 1986 and Vicky moved in with her at her home at 372 Durbin St., Gary.
After hearing her daughters warning, Oliver said she retrieved her own .45-caliber pistol and walked into the kitchen, where she said Burns had fired shots to break down the door and was coming up the side entrance steps. Oliver said she fired twice, but Burns kept walking toward her, so she hid behind a refrigerator, which was struck with gunfire.
Oliver said she retreated into her bedroom, where she saw Burns doing something to the shotgun in the kitchen. Oliver said she fired blindly three times, then ran out the front door as aBurns was at the kitchen table working on the long gun. Vicky Burns also had a pistol in her upstairs bedroom.
Once outside, Oliver said she yelled for help and heard two more gunshots. A neighbor came to help.
In opening statements, deputy prosecutor Mark Watson told jurors that evidence will show at least three guns were fired in the home. Among the witnesses expected to testify is a friend of Burns’ who said Burns showed up unannounced at his home, said he needed to talk and confessed that he killed his wife.
During his opening statement, defense attorney Gojko Kasich said his client, who dropped out of school in sixth grade and worked at a steel mill, was involved in what became a tumultuous relationship with Vicky Oliver that included physical altercations inside Linda Oliver’s home. Kasich urged jurors to pay close attention to how the investigation in the case was handled.
Burns was living in California under an assumed name at the time of his arrest, which was based on a tip from Fox TV “America’s Most Wanted.”