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Article updated: 2/25/2013 11:08 PM

Man paroled in fatal DUI crash charged with another DUI

By Sara Hooker

A man out on parole for killing four members of a Crystal Lake family in a DUI crash in 1999 was charged Sunday with another DUI.

Walter J. Depner, 61, of the 1700 block of Aralia Drive, Mount Prospect, was charged with driving under the influence, improper lane usage, driving while license revoked, and driving an uninsured motor vehicle after police say he pulled into a stranger's driveway in an unincorporated area near Lakemoor, walked into the house and sat down on the couch.

McHenry County sheriff's officers were responding to a report of a car that drove off the road at about 6:20 p.m., when they received another call from the homeowner on the 500 block of North Boulevard -- not far from the scene of the fatal accident that took place in 1999.

On Sunday, Depner told officers that he had taken his girlfriend's car for a drive in his old neighborhood. Officers noticed a damaged area on his car, according to police.

Police said that his speech was slurred and he appeared to be intoxicated.

The police report from Sunday echoes some of the same things police said after a horrific crash that killed a Crystal Lake family so many years ago.

The Burleson family was traveling home from a trip to Great America at 11 p.m. Aug. 21, 1999, when a minivan driven by Depner crossed the centerline on Route 120 near Lakemoor and hit the family's Volkswagen Microbus head-on killing Eva, 34, and her children Daniel, 14, Tiffany, 11, and Dallis, 7.

Thomas Burleson, who was driving, was seriously injured but survived the crash.

Immediately after the crash, Depner was combative with police officers, poking and head-butting officers at the scene. He later urinated on a police officer and hospital worker.

In early 2003, a jury found Depner guilty of four counts of reckless homicide in the crash. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison. He was released on parole in June 2011.

Depner has been no stranger to local law enforcement. Just before the 1999 fatal crash, he had received probation for a felony weapons charge after a raid on his home uncovered a sawed-off shotgun, two fully automatic rifles and a pipe bomb.

"This is a guy who has shown no remorse for his past deeds and continues to engage in the same behavior," McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren said. "He's a menace to every person who gets in a motor vehicle. This guy is a menace."

Depner's currently being held on $1,500 bond. His next court appearance is at 8:30 a.m. March 15.

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