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Dramatic moments in Sudbury courtroom as man sentenced for brother's murder

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Convicted killer Kerry Burke was sentenced in a Sudbury courtroom on Wednesday to life in prison for murdering his younger brother.

Burke, 60, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder back in May after Brant Burke was found dead on a trail near Killarney in October 2020. He was found with two gunshot wounds in his back.

In new details from the court, it was revealed that the two brothers were living together at Brant’s home while the younger brother was in the middle of a divorce.

Alcohol was deemed a "catalyst" in what transpired the day of the murder in a Gladue report, a document that examines impacts for Indigenous individuals when prosecutors look at options for parole.

During that time, the report said the accused had an alcohol dependency and was "drunk for two weeks," during the time of the incident.

Included in the report was an interview with Burke’s mother, who described Kerry as a "cornerstone" of her nine children.

"He (Kerry) was the one everyone turned to when they needed someone," she said.

Burke’s sentence was originally scheduled for July, but was pushed back due to a delay with the report.

The emotion was palpable in court on Wednesday as 10 family members read impact statements, describing Brant as a loving father of four who enjoyed taking his kids hunting and boating.

Family members described the shock and confusion they still feel to this day, stating that Kerry Burke simultaneously tore the family apart by pulling the trigger.

Hannah Burke, niece of Brant and Kerry Burke, said "nothing will ever be the same because of you," turning to Kerry and adding "I hope you think about the trauma you’ve inflicted on this family."

Leanne Burke, Brant’s daughter, expressed heartbreak at losing her father.

"A piece of my life has been stolen," she said.

Melissa Sheridan, Brant Burke’s estranged ex-wife, appeared in court to have an impact statement read by her lawyer.

Sheridan was arrested in November 2020 following allegations by the accused that she played a part in Brant’s murder.

In a note, Burke alleged that Sheridan planned the murder due to concerns over losing her business during the divorce. The note alleged that Sheridan had offered to pay Burke $10,000. The charges were later dropped because they were found to be unreasonable.

In Sheridan’s statement, she referred to Kerry as a "murderous coward" who tried to implicate her and take her away from her family, adding that the stress has impacted her business and personal relationships.

Kerry Burke was present in court and became tearful during the impact statements.

"I’m truly sorry from the bottom of my heart," he said during his statement.

"But I have to try to forgive myself to become a better person."

Justice Kathleen Cullin, who was presiding the case, referred to the crime as "incomprehensible."

"You had a good family who loved you," she said. "They don’t know why this happened, and frankly, neither do I."

She added that Kerry relied on his brother’s innate trust when they went hunting that day in October two years ago, and that the crime was committed with "clear planning and deliberation."

Burke will be facing life in prison at Central North Correctional Centre, a maximum security prison in Penetanguishene, without the chance of parole for 15 years.

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