Katherine Sinclair with her dog Duke in her boat on Lake Eddins. She was shot to death June 1, 2017, at her boyfriend’s home in Laurel. Photo submitted
Katherine Sinclair with her dog Duke in her boat on Lake Eddins. She was shot to death June 1, 2017, at her boyfriend’s home in Laurel. Photo submitted

Crime

She was shot in the head in his upscale Laurel neighborhood. Was it suicide or manslaughter?

By Robin Fitzgerald

rfitzgerald@sunherald.com

August 28, 2018 05:00 AM

A 39-year-old Laurel man is accused of fatally shooting his 23-year-old girlfriend at his home in the upscale Windermere subdivision in the city.

She was barely alive when police found her shot in the head and naked from the waist down inside her car in his garage. He maintains she shot herself.

The crime has brought a grisly spotlight to the town most well-known for an HGTV home renovation show.

The trial of Greg Burroughs entered its sixth day Monday in Franklin County Circuit Court in Meadville, 112 miles from where the crime occurred. The Jones County case was moved to Franklin County at the request of his attorney.

Katherine Sinclair was shot June 1, 2017, and died the next day at a Hattiesburg hospital.

Jurors have heard text messages that show a volatile relationship between the couple, with Burroughs threatening to kill Sinclair and burn down her house in the weeks before her death, the Laurel Leader-Call reported.

Sinclair later sent Burroughs a text saying she would “ruin his life” to prevent him from getting custody of his young daughter by sending compromising pictures and videos to his ex-wife, the Leader-Call has reported from court coverage.

Sinclair searched the name of Burroughs’ wife on Google minutes before she was shot, according to trial testimony reported by the newspaper.

The night Sinclair was shot, the couple had been together at a restaurant and stopped by a gas station to pick up beer before going to Burrough’s home.

Laurel Police Sgt. Micheal Reeves on Friday testified that Sinclair’s blood alcohol-content level was 0.195 the night of her death, according to WDAM-TV. The state considers above 0.08 to be too drunk to drive. It’s unclear if Burrough’s blood alcohol-content level was tested.

Speaking out

The publisher of the Leader-Call, Jim Cegielski, spoke out about the crime in a column published Sunday. He said Burroughs, who comes from a prominent family, has received special treatment through the years.

Burroughs had been arrested in 2016 on charges of DUI, child endangerment and resisting arrest, according to the newspaper. But his name was kept out of the jail docket and the case dismissed when arresting officers showed up late for court, Cegielski said.

Burroughs also was not arrested after being questioned about Sinclair’s death. He turned himself in Oct. 30, 2017, after a Jones County grand jury indicted him on a manslaughter charge. He has been free on a $125,000 bond.

Cegielski goes on to describe the systemic corruption and abuse of power by “privileged” people in Laurel.

“It’s why he called his best friend, Judge Kyle Robertson, before he called 911,” Cegielski said of Burroughs. “It’s why Robertson, in turn, called LPD Chief Tyrone Stewart. It’s why Burroughs was left off the jail docket. It’s why the Burroughs family was allowed to clean up the crime scene. It’s why Greg Burroughs got to spend a year hanging out at the Laurel Country Club instead of being locked up behind bars after being charged with taking the life of a 23-year-old young woman.”

Timeline

A timeline based of the night Sinclair was killed, from trial coverage by the Leader-Call:

  • 8:16 p.m. Video surveillance shows the couple were at a Murphy Express gas station on Highway 15 in Laurel. Burroughs was wearing a different shirt in the video than the one he wore when police arrived at his house.

  • 8:52 p.m. Burroughs claims that’s when he walked into the garage and Sinclair shot herself.

  • 8:55 p.m. Burroughs calls a judge, and reaches him on the second call.

  • 8:58 p.m. Burroughs calls 911.

Burroughs’ trial began Aug. 20.

According to testimony from trial last week, based on reporting by the Leader-Call and WDAM-TV:

  • A gun was found in Sinclair’s right hand. A pathologist testified the shot was fired from a distance, not up close. The shot struck her behind her right ear on the right side of her head.

  • A forensic scientist testified both Sinclair and Burroughs had gunshot residue on their hands. There was residue on Burroughs’ left palm; he is right-handed. There was residue on Sinclair’s right palm; she was left-handed. A gun holster found next to Sinclair was placed in an evidence room that was flooded during a storm; the holster has not been found.

  • Burroughs told police the car was in reverse; it was in the garage by 2 or more feet.

  • Police found Sinclair’s phone, which she had used to Google the name of Burrough’s wife moments before the fatal shot was fired, in the kitchen.

  • Burroughs told police Sinclair’s clothes were in his pickup truck in the driveway. Police found the clothes in a closet in his bedroom. It was the same blouse Sinclair was shown wearing earlier that night. Burroughs had on a different shirt after police arrived at his home.

  • Asked why Sinclair was wearing only a tank top, Burroughs told police it was because she wanted to have sex in the driveway.

  • Police lifted fingerprints from a shell casing and the magazine of the handgun. Police did not send the gun to be fingerprinted. Sinclair’s father had given her the gun 11 days earlier.

  • A pathologist’s report was inconclusive on whether her death was a suicide or a homicide.

  • Sinclair had been receiving mental health treatment but she was not considered suicidal.

Sinclair’s parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Burroughs.

Robin Fitzgerald, 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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