Prosecutors: Man killed in DeQuincy to cover up Baton Rouge murder

George Buck and Nathaniel Mitchell
George Buck and Nathaniel Mitchell(KALB)
Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 1:03 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2022 at 3:31 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - As prosecutors laid out their second-degree murder case against Nathaniel Mitchell Thursday morning, they said he killed Zac Burton in July 2019 to cover up a murder in Baton Rouge.

The 29-year-old Burton, who was from Baton Rouge, was shot to death. His burned body was found at the end of a dead-end road in the DeQuincy area by some juveniles.

Authorities say Burton had traveled by bus to Southwest Louisiana, where he was staying with Mitchell, 43, at his home in Iowa.

In opening statements, Calcasieu First Assistant District Attorney Jacob Johnson said much of the case relies on records, which he says don’t lie.

The key witness is George Buck, who prosecutors say witnessed the murder of Burton and then dumped gasoline on his body and set it on fire at the end of a dead end road. 

He took the stand Thursday after making a deal with the state allowing him to plead to manslaughter. First assistant DA Jacob Johnson says if Buck is truthful on the stand, he will recommend a shorter time in prison when the judge sentences him. 

Defense attorney Donald Guidry yelled at Buck over and over trying to get him to admit he killed Burton. Buck testified that even though he’s lied before, he was telling the truth today.

Buck said on the stand, “I didn’t kill Zach Burton, I didn’t kill anybody, I didn’t know Zach Burton.” 

Buck says he lied to police the first time because he didn’t want to implicate himself in a murder and once recanted that he witnessed Mitchell commit the murder because he was scared of him.

Johnson said if Buck was truthful, he would recommend a sentence of 20 to 35 years, which is less than what he could get otherwise.

However, defense attorney Donald Guidry told jurors if Buck testified Mitchell was the gunman, he would have be lying to get himself out of trouble. Guidry says the jury should not rely on the testimony of a known liar.

Guidry says Mitchell is innocent.