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Plea hearing set for man accused in cousin's death; drug debt allegedly motive for 2012 slaying

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. - A jury trial has been canceled and a plea hearing is set for Thursday for a man accused of helping to move his cousin's body after the cousin was allegedly murdered.

Michael Kyle Burris

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. – A jury trial has been canceled and a plea hearing is set for Thursday for a man accused of helping to move his cousin’s body after the cousin was allegedly murdered.

Michael Kyle Burris, 24, is charged with felony aiding an offender-accomplice after the fact. He pleaded not guilty April 11. The plea hearing, where he could plead guilty to a lesser charge, is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday in Otter Tail County District Court.

If he pleaded guilty, he would serve a maximum of six years, though the actual sentencing would be negotiated later, according to the county attorney’s office.

He was originally charged with felony second-degree murder, but that charge was dropped in April. The amended complaint contains information that Michael Kyle Burris provided.

The 24-year-old and his father, Michael Alan Burris, 65, formerly of Fergus Falls, were arrested Aug. 12, 2013, in Mesa, Ariz., accused in the murder of Scott Burris, who died from a single gunshot wound nearly two years ago.


Michael Alan Burris allegedly asked his son to help move the body off the rocks next to the water at Orwell Dam. Michael Kyle Burris allegedly helped drop off the van on a minimum maintenance road and then helped push Scott Burris’ body into the river.

The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office started its investigation in the case May 24, 2012, when an abandoned vehicle with blood inside was found north of Elizabeth, a town about 8 miles north of Fergus Falls in western Minnesota. Scott Burris, 33, was listed as a missing person until he was found June 15, 2012, in the Otter Tail River.

According to the criminal complaints, an inmate in the Otter Tail County Jail told authorities that around March 2012, Michael Kyle Burris said he and his dad killed his cousin because of a drug debt in which Scott Burris reportedly owed his uncle about $20,000.

Initially, both men chose to fight extradition in Maricopa County Superior Court in Arizona. Michael Kyle Burris waived extradition in October.

Michael Alan Burris waived extradition in January. He is charged with felony second-degree murder. He remains in the Otter Tail County Jail on $1 million bail. His next court appearance is set for Oct. 9, with a jury trial scheduled for Oct. 14. He pleaded not guilty last month to the second-degree murder charge. He’s claiming self-defense and intoxication were factors, according to a notice of defense.

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