State prosecutors said James Edwin Anderson Sr. and his wife Brenda were at Ocean Inn Suites on St. Simons Island having dinner on June 29, 2011 when Anderson Sr. said he needed to talk with his former daughter-in-law’s new boyfriend to hash out some differences and settle some problems.
Not long after, the new boyfriend, Ron Burch, was dead in his own Screven driveway, shot by Anderson Sr.’s .308-caliber rifle.
The case goes before the Supreme Court of Georgia today for oral arguments.
The conflict in the case arose after James Edwin Anderson Jr. — “Little Edwin” — and wife Brittany divorced in 2011 after five years of marriage. Anderson Sr. had tried to get Brittany to work things out with Little Edwin, but the request did not work out. Anderson Sr. also was accused of making derogatory comments toward Brittany and a threat toward Burch on voicemail messages.
On the day of June 29, Little Edwin and Burch got into a heated dispute during a child custody swap. Little Edwin tore donuts in Burch’s yard, while Burch chased down Little Edwin and told him to expect to get arrested if ever returned to his residence, and subsequently called the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.
When Anderson Sr. left St. Simons Island, he stopped first at his house, where he picked up guns from his safe, put them in the back of his pickup truck and headed over to Burch’s residence. Anderson Sr. took the rifle from his truck, and regardless of which narrative you believe, the men confronted each other, and Burch suffered a fatal gunshot wound. A jury found Anderson Sr. guilty of murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime in October 2012, resulting in a sentence of life in prison without parole plus five years.
The appeal rests on five alleged errors, from a man serving on the jury who knew virtually everyone involved and even embalmed Burch, to the usual appeal grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel.