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Burke murder trial starts Tuesday

The murder trial of Ryan Scott Burke will begin Tuesday, in spite of an 11th-hour plea by Burke to switch attorneys and change venues.

Charged with one count of murder, Burke, 29, is accused of killing his disabled wife, 24-year-old Candy Sheila Burke, Nov. 2, 2006.

The White City man sent a letter to Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Crain on Nov. 15 requesting a change in his defense team, as well as a change in venue.

The state's case includes 30 witnesses who are ready to go to trial, said Deputy District Attorney David Orr.

"Each and every one of them are available," said Orr, adding airline tickets had already been purchased for some witnesses.

Burke stated in court Friday that he cannot afford to hire a private defense attorney.

But in an April phone call to his mother, Burke stated firing a third public defender would get him "a real lawyer," said Orr.

Orr praised Andy Vandergaw, Burke's current defense attorney, and urged Crain not to allow Burke to prejudice the state's case or manipulate the public defender system by switching attorneys "on the eve of trial."

Vandergaw told Crain his team would provide an adequate defense for Burke.

"We are ready for trial," said Vandergaw.

Crain denied Burke's request, also praising Vandergaw as a competent, experienced and professional defense attorney. She said Burke had not presented adequate evidence for his requests.

"We will go to (trial) on Tuesday," said Crain.

Candy Burke's body was discovered Nov. 12 in a channel near Agate Lake. She suffered from Friedreich's ataxia, a disease that attacks the nervous system and rendered her unable to walk.

Burke left his home in the 7900 block of White City's Ajax Avenue with the couple's three sons a day after his wife was reported missing.

He has pleaded not guilty to the crime and has remained in the Jackson County Jail without bail since surrendering Nov. 13, 2006.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.