June 17 12:59 PM

Dispatch tapes set scene on day of shooting

Testimony underway in Capac man's trial

October 08, 2008
PORT HURON — Jurors will hear first-hand what was going through the mind of Donald Burke on April 16 when he allegedly fired shots at Capac Police Chief Raymond Hawks, sheriff's deputy Tim O'Boyle and tow truck driver Mike Thorpe outside of his home on William G. Drive.

Burke's attorney Frederick Lepley in his opening statement on Tuesday afternoon told jurors that his client will take the stand to testify about the events of that day.

Burke, 51, is charged with three counts of attempted murder and felony firearm use in the incident that wounded Hawks and O'Boyle. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Prosecutor Mike Wendling told jurors Burke lured Hawks to his home that day, calling Burke's actions an "ambush" in his opening statement. Wendling said Burke purposely swerved his vehicle at Hawks' patrol car, knowing that the chief would follow him home.

Wendling told the eight women and five men on the jury panel that Burke intended to kill Hawks and the others when he fired his weapon that day.

Lepley said it was Hawks who acted purposefully on April 16, knowing that Burke would be infuriated by Hawks' attempt to have his client's vehicle towed.

Lepley asserted that Hawks was formulating what actions to take in order to anger Burke and draw him out of his home.

Lepley told jurors that neighbors weren't fond of Burke, and they had been hounding the chief to take action against his client, whom they accused of playing his radio loudly and revving his car engine in his driveway. He wrapped up his opening statement by indicating that his client "snapped" and "shots were fired."

Witness testimony began with St. Clair County Central Dispatch director Cherie Bartram, who recounted the emergency calls made to 911 that day.

Tapes of the dispatches were played, including Hawks' initial calls upon arriving at Burke's home. Hawks told the dispatcher that if there was a (backup) car in the area they may want to swing by. Hawks then radioed that Burke had locked himself in his home and indicated that he intended to have his vehicle towed for suspected reckless driving. Hawks commented that Burke was going to be furious when the tow truck showed up.

Hawks called again, growing anxious that backup hadn't arrived yet.

O'Boyle radioed that he was just entering the village, and the chief radioed back that Burke was quite volatile.

About a minute later O'Boyle radioed that he'd been shot.

Neighbors David and Kathryn Dalessandro, who live across the street from Burke, also testified. Kathryn said she and her husband had been calling Hawks, asking him to come out that day and talk to Burke because he'd been revving his enging and driving up and down the street squealing his tires.

Testimony was for a lunch break at noon and slated to resume at 1:30 p.m. in Circuit Court Judge Daniel Kelly's courtroom.

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