Johnson County Metro

Man accused in decades-old Iowa City death pleads not guilty

Burtch charged with first-degree murder in 1985 DeWoody death

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IOWA CITY — The Iowa City man accused of killing Lance DeWoody more than 30 years ago has pleaded not guilty.

Anthony Burtch, 57, made his plea to a first-degree murder charge in a written arraignment filed on Monday. Also on Monday, Burtch’s attorneys filed a formal request to have their client placed on supervised release.

Burtch is accused of killing 22-year-old Lance DeWoody on Aug. 12, 1985. Authorities said DeWoody had 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.

Burtch initially told investigators that he and DeWoody had been harassed by a trio of men in the months 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.

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In their application for bond review, Burtch’s defense stated that their client has been living in Iowa continuously, even after the investigation into DeWoody’s death and during that time has only been convicted of traffic offenses. The court documents also state Burtch is being treated at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for several medical conditions, is a single father to two sons — including a minor — and has “family ties and moral support in this community.”

“It is crucial to the assistance in his defense that he be released as soon as possible,” the documents state.

Burtch’s attorneys are asking a judge to appoint an Iowa City-based private investigator, Jan Kidwell, to assist the defense in locating and interviewing witnesses, locating evidence and helping to prepare for the trial.

No rulings have been made on the motions and no hearings have been set at this time. Burtch’s trial has not yet been scheduled.

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

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