Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Addicted to Murder: The True Story of Daniel Conahan Jr.

Star Witness

The state's star witness, 29-year-old Stanley Burden, provided chilling insights into how six men may have died at the hands of Conahan.

"I live the attack every night," he told the court. "You don't forget nothing. It just beats at you and beats at you and tears you apart." Burden stated that he had been down on his luck in 1994, when Conahan offered him $150 to go with him and pose for photographs. Burden was flat broke and reluctantly agreed. The two men then got into Conahan's car and drove to an isolated and wooded area. As they walked down a hog trail, Conahan asked Burden if he ever had pictures taken in bondage. "I told him no. Then he said he'd show me how to do it," Burden testified. Conahan began by tying his hands around a tree and taking pictures of him in various explicit positions. Burden said he felt awkward and alarmed when Conahan tied a rope around his neck. "He said 'Here, I'm going to drape this just around your shoulders and take some pictures. Then he yanked straight back into the tree," Burden continued. He said Conahan was covered with sweat, breathing heavy and cursing, "Why won't you die you son-of-a-bitch?"

"He tried with everything he could to kill me" Burden said. "You got your foot on the back of the tree and you're pulling with everything you've got and it don't work. What would you do? It was like he gave up. If he didn't have somewhere to go that day, I believe he would have tried to stand there and keep going."

According to articles published by the Naples Daily News, Ahlbrand rebutted and said his client admitted to being with Burden in August of 1994, but Burden had refused to be photographed in the nude and they had consensual sex instead. Ahlbrand also reminded the court that Conahan was held a year under those charges, while investigators tried to build a case against him and that the state had dropped the Burden charges when they decided to indict Conahan in Montgomery's murder.

Ahlbrand further stated that the state's star witness was a convicted pedophile, who admitted to having used cocaine, alcohol and various other drugs. He also pointed out that Burden was currently serving 10 to 25 years, in the Marion Correctional Institution in Ohio, for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old boy.

Burden then claimed that Conahan's attack led him to assault the boy. "How do you know that I would ever have did that?" he asked the judge directly. "The kid asked me for sex. He said he was starting his puberty or whatever. That's what he wanted, so that's what he got."

The most important witness called upon by the prosecutors before resting their case was Paula Sauer, a microanalyst with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Sauer testified she found 15 types of fibers taken from Conahan's home, his father's 1984 Mercury Capri, which he sometimes drove and his Plymouth station wagon. Sauer told the court a 16th type fiber, found on Conahan's property, matched fibers on a rope police alleged was used in the attempted strangulation of Stanley Burden. Sauer used a film screen to explain her findings to the court. According to Sauer, an "uncommon pink fiber," called polypropylene, was lifted from Montgomery's body, and later matched to a length of rope found in Conahan's father's car.

Rope evidence
Rope introduced as evidence during the trial
Janice Taylor, a senior crime lab analyst, enforced Sauer's testimony. Taylor testified that a paint chip in Montgomery's pubic hair, matched a paint chip sample taken from the Capri. "These two paint chips were indistinguishable from each other," Taylor said.

On August 16, 1999, the sexual battery charge against Conahan was dismissed, after a medical examiner testified there were no signs of semen on Montgomery and there was no trauma to his anus.

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