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Arrest made in hit-and-run death of USF bicyclist

TAMPA — The day after a hit-and-run driver killed a University of South Florida medical researcher on her bicycle, SUV owner Henry Augustine called the Sheriff's Office.

The red Ford Explorer he lent his sister's boyfriend had damage to the right front side, he told deputies. He had heard about the bicycle crash and was suspicious because the boyfriend, Shawn Lee Burton, 29, couldn't explain the damage, court records state.

A traffic homicide detective interviewed Augustine, 39, who said Burton had called him crying on Sept. 25, between 3:30 and 4 a.m.

Burton told his friend he had hit something but didn't know what, court records state. He later said he hit two deer on Van Dyke Road.

Detectives believe he hit 30-year-old Kayoko Ishizuka, a recent biochemistry doctoral graduate, as she pedaled home from her job at USF's molecular medicine department. She had lights on her bike, wore a helmet and rode in the bike lane, deputies said.

The Hills­borough County Sheriff's Office arrested Burton late Tuesday and charged him with leaving the scene of an accident with injury or death.

Deputies say he was behind the wheel of the 1998 Explorer when it struck Ishizuka at 1:40 a.m. on Sept. 25 near University Square Drive and Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.

Burton's arrest came nearly a month after the accident. Detectives used that time to gather evidence to establish that Burton was the driver, said sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon.

"Since there were no eyewitnesses, detectives had to rely on interviews and evidence," said McKinnon, who did not elaborate on what was found.

When investigating traffic fatalities, detectives must show probable cause that the person they are arresting was driving. It's not unusual for the owners of vehicles involved in crashes to claim their car had been stolen or loaned to a friend, Mc­Kinnon said.

Jail records state that Burton is a painter at Paramount Painting & Services in Zephyrhills. He lives in the Lake Carton Arms apartment complex in Lutz.

His Florida driving record indicates that Burton has been cited once in Hillsborough County: In July 2009 he ran a red light. He didn't pay his ticket, and his license was suspended until February.

News of his arrest made its way Wednesday to a memorial Facebook page for Ishizuka.

"Finally!" several people wrote.

Burton's bail will be set at his first appearance in court this morning.

Times news researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.

Fast facts

Memorial fund

USF is collecting money for the Kayoko Ishizuka Memorial Postdoctoral Travel Award. To donate, visit grad.usf.edu/postdockayokoishizuka.asp, or e-mail Dana Cole at [email protected]

Arrest made in hit-and-run death of USF bicyclist 10/20/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 20, 2010 9:54pm]
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