New trial date set in fatal crash

A trial date has been delayed for a former reserve Nashville police officer accused of two misdemeanors involving pursuing a teenager on a motorcycle through Bartholomew County.

The new bench trial date for Leonard Burch, 25, Columbus, is set for 1:30 p.m. June 29 in Bartholomew Superior Court 2.

Magistrate Joe Meek set the next initial hearing for Burch 1:30 p.m. May 17.

In probable-cause affidavits filed in court, Burch is accused of pursuing 18-year-old motorcyclist Xavier Scrogham of Hope recklessly at a high rate of speed through Columbus and part of rural Bartholomew County at 11:36 p.m. Aug. 29. Scrogham crashed and died after being chased by Burch, court records state.

Burch was charged with false informing, a Class B misdemeanor, and reckless driving, a Class C misdemeanor, court documents state. If convicted on both misdemeanors, the maximum sentence Burch could receive is 240 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.

The delay in the court process is to give the defense more time to respond to discovery requests from the state, Meek said. The discovery process in court involves the prosecution and defense exchanging information about the witnesses and evidence they plan to present at trial.

Burch is accused in court affidavits of making a false statement to a 911 dispatcher that Scrogham’s motorcycle had passed Burch’s police car going 120 mph before Burch, who was off-duty, began his pursuit in the southbound lanes of U.S. 31 near Lowell Road.

Investigators concluded that Scrogham was going no faster than 70 mph in the 55 mph speed zone when the motorcycle first caught Burch’s attention, according to court records.

A Bartholomew County Sheriff’s deputy found Scrogham, who had been thrown from his motorcycle, in a field off Sunland Road east of Columbus at 11:43 p.m. Aug. 29.

Scrogham had missed a 90-degree turn and went off the road, striking a telephone pole guy wire that knocked him off the motorcycle, sheriff deputies said.

The impact knocked off Scrogham’s helmet, and he died at the scene from head and neck trauma, then-Bartholomew County Coroner Larry Fisher determined.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.