A Libertyville man convicted of a hate crime for carving racist sentiments onto a ledge at the home of an African-American dorm supervisor at Elmhurst College apologized Tuesday before he was sentenced to probation and community service.
"I'm really, really sorry for everybody -- not just (the victim) but everybody in the black community," Myles Burton, 21, said.
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DuPage County Judge George Bakalis sentenced Burton to two years' probation, time served in jail, counseling, and 100 hours of public service work for the November 2011 vandalism outside Stanger Hall dormitory.
Bakalis said Burton committed a hate crime when he damaged someone else's property with racial motivation. Whether Burton was a true racist or knew that a black woman lived there was irrelevant under the law, he said.
"What I do see, Mr. Burton, is you have an alcohol problem," Bakalis said. "If that brings out a different side in you, I don't know."
Video surveillance captured Burton, a former Elmhurst College basketball player, using a rock to etch "KKK" and other words on the stone window ledge. At one point, he appeared to step away and laugh before resuming the vandalism, authorities said.
Burton told police he had been drinking heavily and didn't know he was at the home of the college's only African-American dorm supervisor. He claimed his basketball coach had wrongly accused him of racism, and he decided to demonstrate what a "real racist" does.
The vandalism left the 26-year-old dorm supervisor in tears upon discovering it weeks later. She testified at Burton's May trial that she was raised in Mississippi and is "very aware of what the KKK means and symbolizes."
"The defendant caused a great deal of harm to the victim and this community," Prosecutor Todd Fanter said, adding that Burton has had three alcohol-related arrests in the last year, including a DUI in Lake County the month before his trial.
Bakalis called it an "unfortunate case in many ways."
"It's unfortunate to the people who had to be exposed to Mr. Burton's actions, and it's unfortunate to Mr. Burton as well," he said.
Burton had faced up to five years in prison, but both the defense and prosecution asked for probation and other conditions.
Burton told the judge his felony conviction served as a "wake-up call."