Lockhart jury recommends life without parole

File photo of Courtney Lockhart during his trial.
File photo of Courtney Lockhart during his trial.

Posted by: John Shryock - bio | email

OPELIKA, AL (WSFA) - A jury has recommended a sentence of life in prison without parole for a former Army soldier convicted of capital murder in the abduction and shooting death of an Auburn University student from Georgia.

Courtney Lockhart, 26, claimed to be mentally disturbed from his tour in Iraq, but the jury did not buy the defense. The Smith Station man was convicted Thursday in the killing of 18-year-old freshman Lauren Burk of Marietta, Ga.

Even though the jury issued a unanimous recommendation that Lockhart spend the rest of his life behind bars, the judge does not have to accept that recommendation. Circuit Judge Jacob Walker tentatively set sentencing for Jan. 28. where he could sentence Lockhart to death.

Attorneys for Lockhart argued that he was mentally troubled and that he didn't mean for the gun to go off. Burk was shot in the back as she attempted to jump from the car as Lockhart drove on the night of March 4, 2008. Her Honda Civic was found burning on Auburn's campus a short time later.

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