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California doctor allegedly beaten with bat in Las Vegas before death

Updated June 18, 2019 - 5:49 pm

A California doctor found dead in a desert area east of Las Vegas in March had been beaten with a baseball bat in a south valley home, according to court documents made public Tuesday.

The roommate of a man and woman facing murder charges in the death of 71-year-old Thomas Burchard told a Las Vegas grand jury that she was in the house at 7474 Puritan Ave. when he was killed, according to transcripts of her testimony.

Diana Pena, who this month pleaded guilty to a charge of accessory to murder, said she watched Jon “Logan” Kennison kick in the door to a room of the house and swing a baseball bat at Burchard after Kelsey Turner became upset about images and messages she found on Burchard’s phone.

“Thomas had like a big like red and purple bruise right here on his head,” Pena said, indicating his right temple. “And then I took the bat from Logan, and Logan started wrestling with Tom and I told him to calm down, like he’s clearly hurt, and so Logan calmed, like stopped and he was on top of him for a little while and then he got up.”

Turner and Kennison initially planned to take Burchard to a hospital after he was struck with the baseball bat, the 31-year-old Pena testified.

Burchard rinsed off in a bathroom and waited in the back of Turner’s car for a ride to a hospital, Pena said.

“Thomas said that he would tell, if anybody asked, that he got mugged so Kelsey wouldn’t get in trouble, but then as they started taking longer to look for his jacket he said that she was probably going to kill him,” Pena said.

Later, Pena testified, Turner started swearing at Kennison and demanding he “knock Thomas out.”

Pena said she tried to tell Turner to stop, but “she ran into the garage and came out and said it was too late and I asked her what she meant and then Logan came out and he had blood all over him.”

Kennison’s arms were covered in blood, with blood splatter on his face, and he was clutching a blood-soaked gun, Pena testified.

There was no indication that Burchard was shot.

Kennison and Turner, both 26, face murder and conspiracy charges in Burchard’s killing.

Pena, who was released on her own recognizance, faces up to five years behind bars. Her attorney has said that he would ask a judge to give her probation.

The psychiatrist’s body and a baseball bat were found March 7 in the trunk of Turner’s abandoned blue Mercedes-Benz C300 east of Las Vegas. Both Turner’s and Pena’s fingerprints were found on the car, authorities have said.

Burchard died of blunt force injury of the head, according to a medical examiner’s testimony.

Police have said that Burchard traveled to Las Vegas on March 1 to visit Turner, with whom he had an intimate relationship. Cellphone records indicate the Salinas, California, man last used his phone on March 3.

Burchard had paid the roommates’ March rent in full and had previously been paying Turner’s rent in California, his longtime girlfriend, Judy Earp, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Turner and Kennison are being held at the Clark County Detention Center without bail.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Find @randompoker on Twitter.

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