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Jury finds Bozeman man guilty of twice robbing casino | Crime and Courts

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Jury finds Bozeman man guilty of twice robbing casino | Crime and Courts

A jury found a Bozeman man guilty Wednesday of twice robbing a Main Street casino last fall.

At about 5:30 p.m, after a little more than two hours of deliberation, a jury found Duane Burchill guilty of two counts of robbery and single counts of conspiracy to commit deceptive practices and criminal possession of dangerous drugs, all felonies. The trial lasted three days.

Burchill will be sentenced by Gallatin County District Judge Holly Brown, who oversaw the trial, on Sept. 12.

Burchill was arrested in September after an informant identified Burchill as the armed suspect who robbed the Magic Diamond Too Casino, once on Sept. 18 and again on Sept. 24. 

During his trial, however, Burchill contended that he was framed by the informant and that Bozeman police conducted a shoddy investigation.

The casinos were robbed by a suspect who wore a mask that resembled Jack Skellington, a character in the animated movie "The Nightmare Before Christmas," and brandished a handgun.

The suspect got away with approximately $1,500 during the two robberies combined.

The informant, Joshua Martz, told police that Burchill asked him to pick him up in a subdivision behind the Gallatin Valley Mall, near where the robbery occurred.

Martz said that Burchill came running up to the vehicle carrying a wad of money and shoved a Jack Skellington mask under the seat.

Burchill was also seen on video surveillance using a credit card stolen from a woman’s shopping cart at Wal-Mart. The card was used to make hundreds of dollars worth of purchases at Bozeman stores.

Burchill was eventually arrested when he came to the Law and Justice Center for an unrelated matter.

During an initial search of his vehicle and home, investigators found a Jack Skellington mask, handgun ammunition and clothing matching the description of the suspect in the two robberies. A gun matching the description of the one used in the robbery was later found in the truck, stuffed in a glove that had traces of Burchill's DNA inside.

Investigators also found drug paraphernalia with residue that tested positive for meth.

During closing arguments of Burchill's trial on Wednesday, Gallatin County Deputy Attorney Bjorn Boyer said "overwhelming" evidence showed that Burchill was the perpetrator. 

Numerous witnesses testified during the trial that they recognized Burchill as the robber from the mannerisms of the suspect seen in surveillance video from the casino, Boyer said. 

Burchill's own mother even said in a recorded phone call with her son, "I don't know how you're going to prove you're not there. The pictures look like you."

"That is a mother who recognizes her son, recognizes her son as only a mother could," Boyer said to jurors.

Witnesses from the robbery also noted that the suspect intentionally faked an almost indecipherable accent while robbing the casino. One witness said Burchill said he had heard Burchill use a fake accent multiple times while high on meth and a casino employee knew Burchill.

"It makes perfect sense that he believed his voice might be recognized," Boyer said.

Boyer blasted Burchill's defense that he was framed, noting that Martz, who Burchill claimed set him up, was in jail at the time of the second robbery.

"The jail simply doesn't give furloughs for people to get out and plant evidence," Boyer said.

Defense attorney Jack Sands, however, argued that Martz was not a credible witness.

"How could he possibly be credible?" Sands asked jurors. "We know that Joshua Martz tried to frame Duane Burchill."

But as soon as Martz "spun his golden story" to Bozeman police detectives that Burchill was the suspect in the robberies, law enforcement ignored all other leads and didn't interview other suspects reported by citizens, Sands said.

"Not only was the investigation unfair, it was not thorough," Sands said.

Read more http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=us&usg=AFQjCNGUZSKVbd22wOrTPlWsLrjfPBNL3Q&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&ei=w5-CWYCXIoGnhAHMoI_QAQ&url=http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/crime/jury-finds-bozeman-man-guilty-of-twice-robbing-casino/article_17564f13-38e6-59e5-b7e5-673ff3d1f786.html

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