Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sex in the Suburbs: The Death of Ashley Burg

'Leave Her in a Wheelchair and Drive Away'

David Downey's trial began on June 5, 2006, but difficulties with jury selection delayed actual testimony. A pool of 50 prospective jurors had to be dismissed because many of them had voiced "strong opinions about Downey's guilt," according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Downey's jury was eventually picked from a second jury pool.

In pre-trial hearings Downey's attorney, Thomas C. Egan III, moved to present evidence that Ashley Burg had been a drug user and that the drugs found in her system when she died could have been consumed up to seven days before her death. Montgomery County Court Judge Richard Hodgson rejected Egan's motion for having no relevance "other than for the purpose of smearing the victim."

Ashley Burg
Ashley Burg

Several prostitutes took the stand and testified that Downey had hired them for sex on numerous occasions. Kim Victorine testified that she and her boyfriend Derrick Schrandt had taken Ashley Burg to Downey's home and that Downey later called to complain about Ashley. According to Victorine, Downey had said that Ashley was "acting weird and she doesn't want to party." Victorine and Schrandt drove back to Downey's house, and Schrandt went inside to check on her. When he came back out, he told Victorine that Ashley "doesn't look good."

Christine Shute testified that when she entered Downey's house later that night, it "smelled of death" and that Downey had covered Ashley's body with a sheet and draped a towel over her face. Later, when she and Michael Tees informed Downey that they had dumped Ashley's body instead of taking her to the hospital as he had requested, his primary concern was, "Does anybody know about this?"

Tees then took the stand and told the jury that Downey had instructed him to take Ashley's body to the closest hospital and "leave her in a wheelchair and drive away." According to Tees, Downey gave him a roll of duct tape and told him to cover his license-plate number before he left. Later, when Tees and Shute returned to Downey's home for their promised payment, Downey showed no concern for Ashley. "It didn't matter to him one way or the other," Tees testified. "He was just glad to have her out of the house."

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