Convict In DUI Crash That Killed 3 To Go Free

SHERIDAN, Ill. (CBS) — A former McHenry man, who was jailed after killing a woman and her three children in a drunk driving case, is set to be freed Friday.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Mary Frances Bragiel reports, Walter Depner, now 59, was convicted of reckless homicide nearly 12 years ago after crossing the center line of Route 120 in Lakemoor in the car he was driving, hitting the Burleson family head on.

Eva Burleson, 34, was killed in the crash, along with her children Daniel, 13; Tiffany, 11; and Dallis, 7, the Northwest Herald reported. A dog was also killed.

Thomas Burleson, her husband and the children’s father, survived.

When Depner was arrested in the August 1999 crash, his blood alcohol level came in at 0.10, over the legal limit, the Chicago Tribune reported. He on probation for weapons offenses at the time, after police found he had a homemade bomb and numerous illegal guns behind a false wall in his home, the Tribune reported at the time.

The Burlesons had enjoyed a day at Six Flags Great America, and were heading home to Crystal Lake when Depner’s van slammed into them, the Tribune reported.

The Northwest Herald reports Depner will be released from the Sheridan Correctional Center, and plans on living in northwest suburban Mount Prospect. Prison officials say the condition of his release includes no contact with the Burleson family and electronic detention.

At the time of his sentencing, the maximum Depner could have received was 14 years. Officials say new laws went into effect weeks after his arrest which could have keep him in prison for 28 years.

  • tom Sharp

    Now for the 18th time I repeat: if you’re going to kill someone do it with a car (or a match) not a gun! Justice around here demands that guns are worse weapons than cars or matches and using them demands far more years in jail. Maybe one day someone will try to rationalize this. I can’t wait to see them try! in the meantime, this nitwit is almost doomed to be arrested again for DUI.

  • FR

    It was an accident and an illegal search that found the weapons. It sounds like there was no probable cause to search his house. Ture, the crash was tragic but were the victims wearing their seatbelt or were they killed by contributory negligence of not wearing them?

  • Roberta Waker

    FR. When you’re hit head on at a high speed, does it really matter if you’re wearing seat belts? Dead is dead. You might want to research this before you try to blame the innocent victims. Unless you’re a police officer or juror from his case, how do you know if the search for weapons was illegal? Sounds like you are making excuses for this murderer. Obviously the jury found him responsible or he wouldn’t have been sent to jail. I’m sure the gangs in Mt. Prospect will welcome him.

  • tom Sharp

    Fr: Get well soon! If the search was illegal they should punish the idiot police that conducted the search not let the guilty murderer go! Two wrongs don’t make a right!
    It’s time you and the courts figured that out!

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