July 15 • 10:30 PM

Stiff sentence for Capac man

Judge hands down 30-60 years to Donald Burke for April shooting

November 26, 2008
PORT HURON — Calling it one of the "most horrifying" incidents in recent St. Clair County history, Judge Daniel Kelly sentenced 51 year-old Donald Burke to spend 30 to 60 years in prison for his attempt to shoot and kill Chief Raymond Hawks, Deputy Tim O'Boyle and tow truck driver Mike Thorpe on April 16 outside of his William G. Drive home.

Burke chose not to speak at the Thursday hearing though given the chance twice. A jury of eight women and four men found him guilty on all counts last month.

Donald Burke
"The fact that no one died that day is nothing short of a miracle," Kelly said.

The circuit court judge exceeded the minimum sentencing guidelines scored by the probation department. Kelly said imposing the 18.75 years would be a "travesty of justice."

"(The victims) survived because it came to an end...only because he ran out of bullets," Kelly said referring to Burke who took aim at the men with a .22 caliber rifle from his front porch.

Hawks was responding to Burke's home on reports of reckless driving. Hawks requested Thorpe tow Burke's car and asked that another officer be sent for back up. As the deputy arrived on scene, Burke began shooting. One bullet hit Hawks, several pierced the body of Thorpe's truck and O'Boyle was grazed in the head by a shot.

Only one victim, Thorpe, was present at the hearing. O'Boyle apparently chose not to attend and Hawks was hospitalized at the time, his wife Vickie said. Doctors weren't sure what was wrong. Hawks still suffers the effects of blood and oxygen loss from his wound. The bullet entered his abdomen and damaged several organs. He underwent multiple surgeries and was in an induced coma for 17 days. Vickie, Hawks' daughter and sister all read victim impact statements in Kelly's courtroom.

Donna Hass said her brother was a "walking miracle" but still required round the clock care and supervision since the shooting. She said the Hawks family kept Burke and his family in their prayers while the defendant was hospitalized and underwent surgery of his own.

Daughter Kristen Hicks asked Kelly to impose the maximum sentence on Burke.

"We need to know that Donald Burke can't ever hurt (again)," Hicks said.

Vickie Hawks, who rushed to the scene of the shooting, said the image of her unconscious husband being moved on the back of Thorpe's tow truck constantly replays in her head.

"I didn't know if he was alive or dead," she said.

"I was so afraid that I would lose the man I loved so much."

To this day, Hawks still has balance issues, tremors and suffers from post traumatic stress, she said.

Vickie Hawks returns to her seat after reading a victim impact statement at Thursday’s sentencing of Donald Burke. Burke will spend up to 60 years in prison for attempting to shoot and kill Hawks’ husband, Raymond and two others in April. photo by Maria Brown.
"Ray had always wanted to be a police officer," Vickie said. "His career has probably ended."

That caused added financial stress to an already difficult situation, she said.

"Violence is never the answer," she said.

In handing down his sentence, Kelly said Burke was also responsible for terrorizing village residents, referring to the nearly 12 hour manhunt for the defendant which included swat team members escorting people from their homes.

Kelly also lauded Burke's neighbors who came to Hawks' aid immediately after the shooting and testified during the trial— Andy Kokoszka, Sandy Jaros, Monica Teem and Bill Klobnock and Thorpe.

Burke was also handed a two year sentence on one charge of felony firearms which must be served before the attempted murder charge. He was also ordered to pay more than $230,000 in restitution for lost wages and insurance costs. That's in addition to the cost of his court-appointed attorney, Frederick Lepley. Lepley did speak briefly on his client's behalf.

"His actions were out of character for Mr. Burke," Lepley said.

"He did some very foolish things and he's sorry for what happened."

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