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Judge sets $100,000 bail for man in hit-and-run death of USF researcher

TAMPA — A judge Thursday set bail at $100,000 for a man accused of leaving the scene of a crash that killed a University of South Florida cancer researcher.

Prosecutors sought a high bail for Shawn Lee Burton, 29, because prior charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor by selling alcohol and a DUI in 2006 in Sacramento, Calif., suggest he still has ties there that make him a flight risk. California court records show he had a 0.17 blood alcohol level at the time of the driving-under-the-influence arrest.

Authorities say Burton was driving a 1998 Ford Explorer on Sept. 25 when he hit 30-year-old bicyclist Kayoko Ishizuka near University Square Drive and Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.

Hillsborough County Judge W.R. Heinrich asked Assistant State Attorney Barbara Coleman if the state considered upgrading Burton's charge to DUI manslaughter, but Coleman said she was not prepared to do so.

Sheriff's detectives found almost 100 pieces of debris, including paint chips and parts of a broken headlight, at the scene of the crash, Coleman said.

A witness called 911 at 1:45 a.m. Sept. 25 to report a red Ford Explorer had just pulled out of the parking lot of a shopping center that includes a bar, Coleman said in court Thursday. The caller reported the vehicle was being driven fast and erratically.

Four minutes later, someone called 911 to report that a red Explorer had struck a bicyclist on Bruce B. Downs. At the time of the crash, Ishizuka had lights on her bike, wore a helmet and rode in the bike lane, Coleman said.

Forty-five minutes later, Burton arrived at the home he shares with his girlfriend and their child. He told his girlfriend's mother that he had been drinking, Coleman said. Burton had borrowed an Explorer from his girlfriend's brother and explained damage to the vehicle by saying he thought he hit a deer on Van Dyke Road. Coleman said Burton also told his girlfriend's brother that he thought he had "done something bad." No record could be found that Burton called any emergency phone number that night, Coleman said.

Judge sets $100,000 bail for man in hit-and-run death of USF researcher 10/21/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 21, 2010 10:20pm]
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