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Judge rejects request to quash arrest of man involved in '99 fatal

WOODSTOCK – A judge denied a request from defense attorneys to quash the latest driving under the influence arrest for Walter Depner, a man convicted of killing a family in a 1999 drunken-driving crash.

Walter J. Depner, 62, of Mount Prospect, 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.

On Thursday, defense attorneys from Donahue and Walsh argued that there was not probable cause to arrest Depner on the latest DUI charge.

McHenry County Judge Gordon Graham rejected that claim, and said that McHenry County Sheriff's Deputies did have cause to believe Depner was under the influence when they arrested him on Feb. 24, 2013.

Depner was picked up for driving under the influence of drugs, and told deputies he had taken a whole bottle of Klonopin that belonged to his girlfriend, testimony revealed. He then took her car and drove from Richmond to Lakemoor, near the site of the fatal crash.

Testimony revealed that Depner eventually drove up and over a snow bank before going to the home of his former neighbor, who eventually called police, as did a driver who reported his alleged erratic driving.

Sheriff's Deputy Nicole Laskowski testified that Depner appeared intoxicated and confused when she responded to the Lakemoor home of his former neighbors. His speech was slurred, and he was slow to respond to the officer's commands, she said. As he sat on the couch of his former neighbors, he cried and mumbled that "the accident 18 years ago was his fault."

"He was completely out of it," Assistant State's Attorney David Metnick said.

Depner's next court date is June 12.

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