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On June 22, 2011, former Sheriff’s Deputy Travis Burr was charged with a second count of obstructing justice related to a DUI he received last summer. Burr was fired after his involvement in a three-car accident on a country road outside of Sadorus, a small town south of Urbana-Champaign. This latest charge appears to be a sign that the State’s Attorney is taking this case seriously after many delay tactics by Burr’s attorneys.
State police arrived at the scene of an accident on August 14, 2010 that occurred at approximately 6:00 p.m. According to police reports obtained by the Public i, Burr had rear ended a white van that stopped in front of him and his friend Timothy Griffin subsequently rear ended Burr’s car. Police performed a breath alcohol test on Burr who blew a 0.192 (state minimum is 0.08). Griffin had a breath alcohol content of 0.176 and pleaded guilty to DUI in October 2010.
Individuals who receive their first DUI in Champaign County typically lose their license and have their case resolved within six months. Burr hired attorney Mark Lipton who filed several continuances, including one in November 2010 claiming he was waiting for a booking video (Judge Klaus expressed his surprise that such video existed, but still granted the continuance). Burr also applied for a special alcohol monitoring device on his car―permitted in Illinois on first DUIs―which allows him to continue driving.
In February 2011, Burr fired his lawyer and hired attorney Walter Ding who filed motions for a new judge and a special prosecutor, then withdrew his request for a replacement of judge a month later, and saw his motion for special prosecutor denied. On June 3, Ding filed a second motion for a special prosecutor, pointing out that Burr was the witness for the State’s Attorney in two cases, one of them a murder case. An angry Judge Klaus referred the case to Presiding Judge Tom Difanis who denied the motion, saying that it was the State’s Attorney’s determination to ask for a special prosecutor.
The second count of obstruction of justice was apparently retribution for several months of stalling. In the original police reports, an officer claims a witness saw “a person had come to the crash scene and removed a cooler from the rear of Burr’s truck, as well as an additional person came to the scene and removed what appeared to be a can placed in a can holder from the interior of Burr’s truck.”
The News-Gazette covered Burr’s initial arrest and WCIA reported on his dismissal, but none of the local mainstream news media has followed up on the story.
In related news, ex-Champaign police detective Lisa Staples is serving an 18-day sentence in the Champaign County jail for her second DUI.