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Murder defendant takes a powder, again

A Hanover County judge will have to decide what to do about a Mechanicsville man who collapsed and was hospitalized for the second time while on trial for the killing of his girlfriend.

It was March when Derek Burkhead first faced a jury on charges that he shot his girlfriend during an argument.  He claimed the gun went off accidentally.  During a break in the trial, Burkhead fell to the floor and began kicking his legs in an apparent seizure.  The next day, the judge granted his motion for a mistrial.

Yesterday, the scene was repeated, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.  Burkhead collapsed on the front steps of the county courts building during a lunch break.  He remains hospitalized today.  Circuit Judge J. Overton Harris will consider how to handle the unfinished trial.

UPDATE:  The Times-Dispatch reports the judge declared a second mistrial.  Burkhead remains in the hospital.

By Peter Vieth

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