Man found guilty of killing brother near Killarney given life sentence

SUDBURY—Kerry Burke received a life sentence in a second-degree murder case heard in Sudbury court October 26. Mr. Burke, who has been in custody since his arrest on November 24, 2020, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of his brother (originally first-degree murder) on May 20 of this year.

Court had heard that Brant Burke, 56, was found dead on a trail in the Point Grondine Reserve off Highway 637 on October 25, 2020, following an investigation by Wiikwemkoong Tribal Police, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Kerry Burke and Melissa Sheridan were arrested on November 24 and 25 of that year, respectively. Crown Attorney Stephanie Baker had told court on May 10 in an agreed statement of facts that the Burke brothers were living together in Brants’ home on Wiikwemkoong territory in the Killarney area in 2020. At the time, Brant Burke and Ms. Sheridan, who had two children, were estranged.

On October 25, 2020, Wiikwemkoong Tribal Police and OPP were contacted about the discovery of a deceased male found in a bushy area on Wiikwemkoong territory near Killarney, southeast of Greater Sudbury. The deceased male, who was found face down and on top of a .308 calibre rifle with one live round in it, was identified as Brant Burke. He appeared to have died from a gunshot wound. Brant Burke was dressed in camouflage clothing. His pickup truck was parked nearby. A post-mortem examination determined Brant Burke had died from two gunshot wounds that caused severe damage to a lung and his thorax, producing extensive bleeding. Later interviewed by police, Kerry Burke said he used a rifle Ms. Sheridan gave him to shoot his brother twice, but he no longer had the rifle. Kerry said he shot his brother from behind and then “finished him off’ by shooting him in the back at close range.

In Sudbury court October 26, Kerry Burke received a life sentence with no parole eligibility for 15 years. He told the court that as a young boy, his father taught him to ‘stay between the lines’ in life. “Then one day, I made a mistake and crossed the line. It has taken away from me everything I looked forward to, everything I cherished. I don’t know if I ever will be forgiven. I only hope that I can do the right thing and stay away from my bad habits. I am truly sorry from the bottom of my heart and hope, one day, you will forgive me for what I have done, and I am a better man.”

Justice Cullin said in court, “Mr. Burke, the crime you have committed here is incomprehensible. It is clear to me from the (10) victim impact statements, and some of the statements you made to the Gladue writer, you had a good life and family that loved you and one another. They do not understand you, and neither do I.” “You murdered your brother, your best friend, in cold blood,” stated Justice Cullin. “You shot him in the back and left him in the bush to die. You left your family, his children, frantic for what had happened to him when you knew exactly what had happened and why. You have committed a crime that has broken your family and will continue to impact it for generations.”

Kerry Burke, 60, will not be eligible for parole until November 24, 2035, just over 13 years from now. Previously, the murder charges against Melissa Sheridan were dropped by the Crown as the case against her was determined would not stand up in court.