Man jailed for DUI, child endangerment

On Mar. 14, the lawyer Max C. Lubin campaigned for a probationary sentence in a drunk driving and child endangerment case for his client, Devonte Jaleel Burns. However, Luzerne County Judge Joseph F. Sklarosky Jr. sentenced Burns to three months to two years in county jail after an intense hearing, instead.

Burns, a 30-year-old from Waterbury, Conn., was sentenced after pleading guilty to drunk driving and child endangerment charges on Dec. 18. The judge noted that probation would lessen the severity of the offense, considering the presence of three children in Burns’ car during the incident and his involvement in a hit-and-run incident in Monroe County, just hours earlier.

Burns was charged by Pennsylvania State Police at Wilkes-Barre for drunk driving and child endangerment after a chase on Interstate 81 in Duryea on Aug. 13, 2022. Court reports say Burns was seen driving a Honda Accord with a missing front passenger side tire on the interstate. The vehicle matched the description of one involved in a hit-and-run accident earlier in Stroudsburg.

Burns had missed an exit ramp and ventured down an embankment onto state Route 315. His car lost the driver’s side tire while on Route 315, then returned to Interstate 81 with no front tires, running up speeds of 75 to 80 mph during the chase, which eventually ended when a trooper executed a pit maneuver.

The car’s back seat contained three young boys, ages 9, 8, and 6, with a wheel and the front bumper heaped on them—none of them were strapped in. Burns reportedly reeked of alcohol when he was arrested. Despite this, Lubin advocated for probation as Burns had accepted responsibility and had proven himself beneficial to society, bolstered by 12 character letters from Burns’ close relations, highlighting his loving, hardworking nature, and respectfulness.

Judge Sklarosky did point out one of the kids was hurt in the hit-and-run incident in Monroe County, leading to Burns serving a three-year probation sentence for accidents implicating injuries. Fortunately, none of the children were injured in the subsequent pursuit on Interstate 81 in Luzerne County.

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