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Former doctor found guilty of wife's 2016 murder

By Travis DeNeal
updated: 12/20/2019 12:23 AM

SALINE COUNTY -- A Saline County jury on Tuesday found former doctor Brian T. Burns guilty of murder and concealment of a homicidal death in the 2016 death of his estranged wife, Carla Burns.

Brian Burns was arrested in March of 2016 after the disappearance of Carla Burns. Prosecutors had alleged Brian Burns murdered Carla and tried to conceal her death by burning her remains and spreading them around property the couple owned south of Harrisburg.

During Burns' testimony, he said his wife died accidentally when he was giving her a lesson in shooting a handgun. Burns said upon firing, the gun recoiled enough that it rolled back, pointing at Carla's head, and she accidentally fired the gun again at that point, killing her.

He said Carla had told him she wanted to be cremated and have her ashes spread on their property. Brian Burns said because of the shock of the event, he did not think to contact authorities before he burned Carla's body and spread her remains.

Prosecutors noted that Brian Burns' story regarding Carla's death had changed multiple times, and that Carla was in the process of divorcing Brian Burns.

After being arrested on murder and concealment of a homicidal death charges, Brian Burns subsequently was charged with attempting to hire a person to kidnap then-Saline County State's Attorney Michael Henshaw and hold him for ransom until murder charges were dropped. Burns was convicted in 2017 on that charge and was sentenced to 20 years with the Illinois Department of Corrections. Burns since has appealed the verdict.

Henshaw died in March of 2017. An investigation by Illinois State Police determined Henshaw died in his home from a spinal fracture, and that foul play was not involved.

Burns' Illinois medical license was suspended July 31, 2017, according to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

He is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 11.