Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Violation of probation gets Brooksville man 12-year prison sentence

David Alan McBurnett pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2009 beating death of a baby.

David Alan McBurnett pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2009 beating death of a baby.

BROOKSVILLE — David Alan McBurnett stood at the lectern and looked up at the ceiling as the judge considered his fate.

Three years ago, McBurnett, 23, was sentenced to two years in prison and four years of probation for his role in the death of his then-girlfriend's 1-year-old son. On Thursday, McBurnett admitted to Circuit Judge Daniel B. Merritt Jr. that he violated his probation last month when a police officer found him with a small amount of marijuana.

Merritt could have extended McBurnett's probation or given him as many as 15 years in prison. With little comment, the judge sentenced him to 12 years, with credit for 786 days served.

McBurnett's face crumpled as he fought back tears. He kissed his finger and pointed at his family sitting in the second row. His mother and fiancee began to cry.

McBurnett was 19 when he was arrested in 2009 and charged with aggravated child abuse, a week after Hunter Lee Morris was taken to the emergency room with internal bleeding, a fractured rib and bruises that likely left him brain dead, investigators said. McBurnett and Hunter's mother, Breanna Underwood, lived with McBurnett's mother in Istachatta.

A day after the arrest, Hunter died, and deputies added the first-degree murder charge.

During Thursday's hearing, defense attorney Ellis Faught Jr., who also represented McBurnett in the first case, reminded Merritt that depositions and other evidence did not show that McBurnett was the abuser.

McBurnett, of Brooksville, ultimately pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter by culpable negligence and was sentenced as a youthful offender. No one else was charged in the case.

"One thing that was clear to myself and the state was that Mr. McBurnett did no physical harm to the child," Faught said.

Last month, a Brooksville police officer pulled McBurnett over for a traffic stop and noticed a marijuana cigarette behind his ear. Faught asked Merritt on Thursday to sentence McBurnett under youthful offender guidelines, which would have meant a maximum prison term of six years.

Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino, who handled the original case, told Merritt that McBurnett deserved 12 years in prison.

"Clearly, the evidence showed he was present and took no steps to properly supervise the child," Magrino said.

As for the new charge, he said, "Although one can say misdemeanor possession of marijuana possession is miniscule, I don't have that belief."

Afterward, McBurnett's family said the sentence was unfair. His fiancee, Aleisha Edwards, said he has been loving and protective of her 2-year-old son.

"I told him I'm going to wait for him," Edwards said. "He's my soulmate."

Violation of probation gets Brooksville man 12-year prison sentence 08/29/13 [Last modified: Thursday, August 29, 2013 10:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Video: Loggerhead sea turtle found in Islamorada resident's pool

    Wildlife

    An adult female loggerhead sea turtle, discovered in an oceanside residential pool in Islamorada on Monday, has been rescued and released off the Florida Keys.

    An adult female loggerhead sea turtle, discovered in an oceanside residential pool in Islamorada on June 22, 2017, has been rescued and released off the Florida Keys. [Photo from video]

  2. What Wilson Ramos will mean to the Rays lineup, pitching

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chris Archer was stumping for all-star votes for Corey Dickerson during a live interview Wednesday morning on the MLB Network when he lifted the right earpiece on his headset and said, "I hear a buffalo coming."

    Tampa Bay Rays catcher Wilson Ramos (40) waves to the crowd after being presented with the Silver Slugger Award before the start of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, April 4, 2017.
  3. Deon Cain, Duke Dawson, Derrick Nnadi among SI's top 100 players

    Blogs

    Sports Illustrated's countdown of the top 100 players in college football continues with three more local players.

  4. She doesn't care if you accept her, as long as you respect her

    Human Interest

    Mary Jane Taylor finds strength walking quietly among the dead.

    Mary Jane Taylor,18, visits Oaklawn Cemetery in downtown Tampa when she is feeling low. "When I hit my low points in life I go the the graveyard," she says. "people are afraid of the graveyard. I love the graveyard." The transgender teen recently graduated from Jefferson High School. She is  enrolled in summer classes at Santa Fe College in Gainesville studying international business. She plans to transfer to the University of Florida, attend law school and become a civil rights lawyer. (JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |   Times)
  5. Few new details in state investigation of Tarpon Springs officer-involved shooting of Nick Provenza

    Public Safety

    TARPON SPRINGS — An investigative report, released this week by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, into the officer-involved shooting that killed 25-year-old Nick Provenza included largely the same narrative prosecutors released this month that ruled the shooting a "justifiable homicide."

    Stopping while riding by on his bike Michael Prater, 15, hangs his head after looking at the memorial at Safford and Tarpon avenues for Nick Provenza, a 25-year-old who was shot and killed there during a car show Saturday by a Tarpon Springs police officer. Investigators said Provenza pulled a knife on the cop who shot him. Friends find it hard to believe a man they described as a peaceful vegan and musician would be capable of such an act. Prater didn't know the victim but was at the car show.