Alleged hitman's girlfriend on the stand - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Alleged hitman's girlfriend on the stand

David Damm David Damm

GALENA, Ill. (KWWL) -- The longtime girlfriend of Bruce Burt told jurors he hit her in the past after he had smoked crack cocaine.

KWWL's coverage partner, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, has reporter Jeff Reinitz in the courtroom covering the trial.

Burt has admitted he killed 13-year-old Donnisha Hill Oct. 27, 2006, and said David Damm paid him $2,000 for the task.

Damm is on trial for murder, conspiracy and kidnapping in Hill's death, and his attorney's began presenting their case Monday morning.

Patricia Harris, who is the mother of Burt's son, testified about an occasion where Burt hit her in the leg with a broom.

Prosecutors, who are seeking the death penalty for Damm, objected to the defense calling Harris as a witness.

But Damm's attorneys said it showed a pattern of Burt smoking crack and then becoming violent several hours later.

During a hearing when jurors weren't present, Harris said Burt struck her face on another occasion and "almost choked" her and slammed her against the house at another time. On a fourth occasion, he raised his hand as if to hit her when she was five months pregnant, she said.

Harris also told jurors that Burt began using crack in about 2003 and he could be the sweetest person when he wasn't on drugs. She recounted how he had taken care of his mother before she died.

Prosecutors said Damm hired Burt to kill Hill to derail a sex abuse investigation. Her body was found in rural Jo Daviess County about 10 miles east of Galena the day after she disappeared.

Damm's defense team earlier said Damm wanted Burt to help the girl run away, not to kill her. They suggest a struggle broke out between Burt and the girl during the drive as Burt was coming down from a crack high.

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