Johnson County Metro

Magistrate denies supervised release for Anthony Burtch

Bond set at $1 million cash

Anthony Burtch answers a question on a video screen during his initial appearance at the Johnson County Courthouse in Iowa City on Friday, Mar. 25, 2016. Burtch is charged with murder in the 1985 death of Lance DeWoody. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Anthony Burtch answers a question on a video screen during his initial appearance at the Johnson County Courthouse in Iowa City on Friday, Mar. 25, 2016. Burtch is charged with murder in the 1985 death of Lance DeWoody. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — Anthony Burtch will remain in custody on a $1 million cash bond after a request to be placed on supervised release was denied.

During an initial appearance Friday morning, Burtch’s attorney Lei Bei, said his client fit the criteria for a lower bond or supervised release. Burtch, 57, has lived in Iowa City continuously since 1976, working for a time as a parking cashier before retiring due to disabilities.

“Even after he was investigated,” Bei said.

Bei said his client has diabetes and has suffered from a stroke. He has a pacemaker, shunts in his heart, dietary restrictions and requires a special medication he receives from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Burtch is a single father to two sons, one of which still lived at home at the time of his arrest, Bei said.

“He’s not a flight risk,” he said. “He’s not a danger to the community.”

Magistrate Edward Leff, however, said the nature of crimes supported the bond. He advised Bei he has a right to request a review of the bond conditions.

Burtch is accused of killing 22-year-old Lance DeWoody on Aug. 12, 1985. During a news conference on Thursday announcing Burtch’s arrest in the 30-year-old case, authorities said DeWoody said been in a relationship with Burtch’s then-wife. DeWoody and Burtch’s now ex-wife were together the night of Aug. 12 and then she returned to her husband. Shortly thereafter, Burtch left for about 90 minutes. Authorities believe Burtch fatally shot DeWoody during this time.

DeWoody’s body was found in a picnic shelter on the north side of the University of Iowa’s Oakdale campus on Aug. 13. He had been shot in the head and face.

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Coralville Police Chief Barry Bedford said Burtch had been a person of interest in the case from early on when the investigation revealed the relationship between DeWoody and Burtch’s wife.

Burtch initially told investigators that he and DeWoody had been harassed by a trio of men in the month’s leading up to DeWoody’s death. However, investigation revealed those men didn’t exist.

After subsequent reviews of the case over the years didn’t result in an arrest, authorities took another look at the case in 2013. In January, an Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agent met with Burtch. Burtch denied his earlier story about being harassed by the men and authorities obtained a DNA sample through a court order. Burtch allegedly said afterward that he would be “buried by the sciences of this thing.”

Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness refused to say if Burtch’s DNA matched evidence found at the scene or what new evidence was used to support the court order to obtain the sample.

Supervised release for a murder suspect suffering from health problems would not be unprecedented in Johnson County. After his client, 73-year-old John Bloomfield, was arrested in November 2013 for the Sept. 22, 1997 death of his wife, Frances Bloomfield, Iowa City attorney Leon Spies successfully argued Bloomfield — who suffered from metastatic prostate cancer, diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome, a sleep disorder, fatigue and other afflictions — should be placed on house arrest at his home in Minnesota. Bloomfield died in 2014 before he could stand trial.

Relatives of Burtch were in court Friday morning, but declined to comment.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Burtch would face a mandatory life sentence.

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