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August 21, 2013

Man accused in Indiana woman's death

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A man accused of fatally shooting an Indiana grandmother whose body was found in a southern Illinois cornfield disrupted his first court appearance on murder charges Monday, repeatedly asking a judge to “break it down for me, bud.”

Thomas Davidson, 25, was granted a public defender during his initial court appearance in White County on four counts of first-degree murder, as well as one count apiece of aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated vehicular hijacking, and aggravated discharge of a firearm.

Davidson forced a brief postponement of Monday’s hearing after “he got very disruptive,” pressing a judge for details about the charges or their ramifications by telling the jurist to “break it down for me, bud,” White County Sheriff Doug Maier said afterward.

Davidson eventually was sent back to his jail cell and “calmed down” before being brought back to the courtroom to finish the appearance, Maier said.

No plea was entered on Davidson’s behalf, Maier said.

Davidson is accused of killing 58-year-old Sandra Burkhardt of Poseyville, Ind., shortly after she was last seen leaving a store Friday night in Indiana’s Gibson County.

White County Sheriff Doug Maier says investigators believe Davidson forced her into Illinois a short time later and shot her four times near Crossville, then crashed her car in Indiana about 50 miles from where Burkhardt’s body was found.

Indiana police arrested Davidson Saturday while investigating burglaries, and authorities in Mount Vernon, Ind., tell television station WFIE that Davidson was suspected in connection with a shooting that day in which a shot fired from a car grazed the nose of another woman.

Davidson later provided information that helped authorities locate Burkhardt’s body, Maier said.

The sheriff said Davidson and Burkhardt were “somewhat neighbors” in Indiana’s Gibson County, “but I don’t think he really knew her.” Both Davidson and the victim have relatives in White County, Maier added. He declined to discuss why Davidson is alleged to have brought the victim to the area or his possible motives for killing her. He said authorities believe Burkhardt did not go with Davidson on her own will.

A message left Monday with Davidson’s public defender, Jerry Crisel, was not immediately returned.

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