Monday, June 11, 2012

Court Update on the Hit-and-run Death of Bicyclist Kayoko Ishizuka

Jose Menendez was on the scene this morning at the courthouse in downtown Tampa to follow the hit-and-run death case case of Kayoko Ishizuka, the USF health researcher-bicyclist killed by motorist Shawn Lee Burton on Sept. 25, 2010 in a bike lane on Bruce B. Downs. Blvd. across from the USF campus. Here is Jose's report:

"I went to court this morning for the start of the trial for Shawn Lee Burton, the motorist who was arrested on Oct. 19, 2010 for the hit-and-run death of Kayoko Ishizuka on Sept. 25, 2010. From past experience, especially for jury duty last Monday, I wasn't expecting it to start at 8 a.m. as "scheduled," so I didn't arrive till a little after 9. I was still much too early because it wasn't till 10:45 that his case came up. Both the assistant state attorney, Barbara Coleman, and Burton's attorney, Kim Seace, asked Judge Stephens for a continuance. The judge granted it, and the start of the trial was rescheduled for Wednesday, August 1st. That's 1 year, 10 months, and 7 days after Kay's death.

You all may be glad to hear that Burton is still in custody. In the courtroom, he was wearing the standard orange prisoner outfit with wrist manacles attached to a chain around his waist. After his trial was rescheduled, I was out in the hallway, telling a 10 News photojournalist who was there for the trial about the new date, when Burton's attorney came out of the courtroom. I asked her, "Has your client, Shawn Burton, been in custody since he was first arrested?" She said that he has. I guess he couldn't raise enough bond money. His bond was originally set at $100,000. Last August the defense filed a motion to have it reduced, but Judge Stephens denied the motion.

In case any of you are wondering how much prison time Burton might get if he's eventually found guilty of the charge "leaving the scene of a crash with death," last Monday I nearly wound up on the jury for the trial of William Charles White Jr. (I was one of 60 potential jurors, and it took all day for the final jury to be selected.) White was arrested in July of 2010 for intentionally running down a pedestrian following an altercation. The formal charges against him were "murder in the first degree (premeditated)," "leaving the scene of a crash with death" (same charge as Burton), and "fleeing to elude highspeed." The jury found White guilty on all 3 counts last Friday, and he was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder charge, 15 years (maximum) in prison for the fleeing to elude charge, and 30 years (maximum) in prison for the charge of leaving the scene of a crash with death."

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