Lee County Circuit Court Upholds Capital Murder conviction in Auburn University Student’s death in 2008

Local News

LEE COUNTY Ala. (WRBL) – A Lee County Circuit Court has upheld the Capital Murder conviction of a man found guilty in the death of an Auburn University Student in 2008.

Auburn University freshman Lauren Burk was kidnapped and murdered by Courtney Lockhart in March 2008. Lockhart was convicted in November 2010 in Burk’s death.

On Friday, Judge Jacob Walker of the Lee County Circuit Court denied Courtney Lockhart’s post-conviction challenge.

“Courtney Lockhart viciously and senselessly struck down an innocent young woman. Even as he was terrorizing Lauren Burk, she responded with kindness which was met with brutality,” said Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall. “We later learned that several other women came close to the same fate at his hands in the days before and after he killed Ms. Burk. Her murder shocked and saddened the people of Lee County and of Alabama, and we are determined that this defendant will not escape justice for his horrendous crime.” 

On March 4, 2008, Lockhart was waiting in a parking lot at Auburn University when Burk left a campus building around 8 p.m. and walked toward her car, according to officials. Lockhart accosted Burk, pointed a gun at her, and ordered her into her car. He forced her to undress and drove for about 30 minutes.

According to Lockhart, Burk listened to him talk about how bad he felt his life was, and she offered to help him find a job. As he became frustrated, she opened the passenger door and leaped from the moving car. He shot her at close range with the bullet piercing both lungs. 

Witnesses described hearing two shots, seeing the nude woman jump from the car and flag down help, and watching the killer flee. Despite attempts by passersby and emergency responders to save her life, Burk died.

According to investigators, Lockhart then bought gas with Burk’s debit card, returned her car to the university parking lot where he doused it with gasoline, set it afire, and left in his own vehicle.

Officials say Lockhart drove to Georgia, where he used Burk’s debit card again. He then continued on his crime spree that spanned multiple days.

Investigators say Lockhart robbed one woman at gunpoint on March 5 in a LaGrange nursing home parking lot.

On March 6, Lockhart robbed a woman who was with her young son at a Sam’s Club parking lot in Columbus.

On March 7, in the parking lot of a Walmart in Newnan, Lockhart hit a woman in the back of her head, held the gun to her head, shoved her into the floorboard of her car and was backing out of the parking space. When he realized a witness was following, he returned to his own vehicle and fled the scene.

Police found Lockhart’s tag number from surveillance video and he was captured after an initial traffic stop ended in a high-speed chase.

Officers recovered Burk’s cell phone and iPod from Lockhart, and he made statements to officers when he was arrested.

It was discovered that Lockhart also had robbed at least two women at gunpoint, in Smiths Station and Phenix City, Alabama, in the days prior to his murder of Burk.

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