Probation upheld for man involved in 2009 Hit and Run - WRBL

Probation upheld for man involved in 2009 Hit and Run

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

A Columbus judge upheld the probation of a former Columbus police officer involved in a fatal 2009 hit and run. Gregory Burns went before Judge John Allen Friday morning asking for the remainder of his probation to be terminated and his record cleared.

Burns was sentenced to five years in 2011, one year which he served in jail and four years on probation after he pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident involving a death.

Knowing this motion hearing was scheduled for Friday, News Three reached out the victim's family and they were able to speak in court on behalf of their deceased loved one.

Judge Allen said the two years Burns had already served were not sufficient for the nature of the offense.

"It takes a little more time to see whether or not he's going to deviate or live up to the form of what he committed and the course of his actions so I'm unwilling to terminate today," said Judge Allen.

As the Collins family walked out of the courtroom Friday morning, they were relieved that Judge Allen upheld Burns' probation.

"I'm just thankful that Judge Allen was able to hear our opinion and consider how we felt in this situation," said Cheryl Collins, the victim's mother.

Don Kelly, the assistant District Attorney, said in court James Collins was skateboarding around midnight on June 25, 2009 in Buena Vista Road and was struck by a Tahoe. Witnesses saw the vehicle flee the scene and officers were unable to locate the vehicle during the night.

Kelly said Burns told an individual to get rid of the vehicle and then reported it stolen. Officers in Atlanta found the Tahoe in Atlanta about a year later and linked it to the Collins hit and run.

Burns was originally charged with vehicular homicide but pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of leaving the scene of an accident involving a death.

Under the first offender act, Burns was trying to get the final two year of his probation terminate and record cleared. The first offender act is designed to allow people to move on with their lives but the Collins family did not want James's memory to be forgotten.

"It was like Gregory Burns just wanted to wipe this off his plate so he could go ahead and go on with his life and I feel like James's life has ended on this earth and he's not able to be here for his son," said Cheryl Collins.

His son, now five years old, currently lives in Massachusetts with his mother.

"He loves motorbikes and he's a very happy young boy," said Cheryl.

Burns apologized to the family in court and family friend Diana Bristow said justice was served.

"We're standing up for what's right. We have to forgive but that doesn't mean that he doesn't have to pay for what he's done wrong," said Bristow.

 

 

 

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