Updated: Dec 4, 2021
By Joe Johnson
A Clarke County jury on Friday acquitted an Athens man who was accused of committing a murder over two years ago.
Following a weeklong trial in Superior Court, the jury found 26-year-old Willie Tremaine Nickholas Evans not guilty of malice and felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Defense attorney John Donnelly did not return a phone message and email seeking comment. The Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case, declined comment.
According to Athens-Clarke County police, evidence had pointed to Evans as the person who on June 13, 2019 fatally shot 51-year-old David Lee Burnette in the victim’s home at the University Oaks complex off West Broad Street.
Police at the time said that robbery was the apparent motive for the shooting.
According to police, Evans, who also resided at University Oaks, immediately after the shooting fled to Florida, where he was later arrested on charges of illegal possession of a concealed firearm, resisting arrest with violence, and battery on a police officer.
Authorities said he was in possession of the murder weapon when arrested.
Evans was extradited to Georgia in May 2020 on a Superior Court judge’s bench warrant, and he remained incarcerated without bail at the county jail until his trial.