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Warrant issued for man who killed family in '99 DUI

WOODSTOCK – A former McHenry man who killed a woman and her three children in a 1999 drunken-driving crash failed to appear for a scheduled court date on a new DUI charge.

A no-bond warrant was issued for Walter J. Depner, 61, who is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol and clonazepam, a medication for which prosecutors have said he doesn’t have a prescription.

He was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.

Depner, of Mount Prospect, was on parole at the time of his new charges. He spent more than a decade in prison for the August 1999 crash that killed Eva Burleson, 34, and her three children – Daniel, 13; Tiffany, 11; and Dallis, 7. The family dog also was killed.

Husband and father Thomas Burleson was the only survivor.

The February incident was near the site of the fatal crash.

Authorities said Depner drove off the road in the area of 905 W. Rand Road/Route 120 near Lakemoor but was found sitting on a couch in a nearby home.

In addition to the aggravated driving under the influence charges, Depner also was charged with driving on a revoked license.

He posted $6,000 bail to be released from McHenry County Jail shortly after his most recent arrest, but was taken to the Illinois Department of Corrections custody on a parole hold. He since has been released.

Before issuing the warrant for his arrest, McHenry County Judge Gordon Graham rejected a request from Depner’s defense attorney, Ed Donahue, to move his client’s court date to Thursday.

“The defendant should have been released a week and a half ago,” Assistant State’s Attorney David Metnick said. “The defendant should have known about this court date.”

After being sentenced in 2003 to 14 years, McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather called Depner’s case “without a doubt the most egregious case of reckless homicide in the history of McHenry County.”

He was released on parole in June 2011.

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