OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A 30-year-old man was sentenced Friday to 13 years in state prison for his vehicular manslaughter conviction for killing KPFA radio host Wesley Burton in a collision in North Oakland in April 2015.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay told Daniel Leonard that he will have “a lifetime burden to carry” for the death of Burton, 36, in the collision in the 5900 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Way at about 2:20 a.m. on April 18, 2015.
Oakland police said Leonard was speeding west on 60th Street in a Dodge Charger when he broadsided the Mercury Sable that Burton was driving south on Martin Luther King Jr. Way, flipping it into the roadway.
Burton, who had just co-hosted a show on hip-hop and urban music and was driving to his home in the Temescal district, was trapped in the Sable and was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.
Authorities said Leonard ran from the scene, abandoning his car there, and he wasn’t arrested until August 2016.
Burton was a board operator, producer and host of two shows on KPFA, Berkeley-based public radio station. His two shows, Sideshow Radio and After Hours, played hip-hop, R&B, soul and jazz music late at night.
Burton was married to Lucrecia Burton and was the father of four young children: Santiago, Enrique, Makayla and Samaya.
Leonard, who had four prior felony convictions for burglary and drug charges, pleaded no contest on July 13 to vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, leaving the scene of an accident and other charges.
Lucrecia Burton said at Leonard’s sentencing Friday that her husband was “a great man, an amazing man.”
Lucrecia Burton said Wesley Burton “was always ready to take our kids to a protest, a picket line or a rally” and “had a passion for the community.”
Lucrecia Burton said her husband’s co-workers at KPFA “miss your energy because you were always ready to help them out.”
Lydia Sweatt, Wesley Burton’s mother, said her son “was a very special person, a loving and caring individual who was always there to help anyone in need.”
Sweatt said Burton’s death “broke (her) heart and spirit,” caused her to suffer medical problems and take early retirement.
Sweatt said Leonard “has devastated our family by his reckless act.”
Leonard’s lawyer, Tony Cheng, said Leonard “is very remorseful for the family’s loss and regrets his actions.”
Cheng said Leonard “didn’t intend to injure anyone, much less have anyone lose their life, but the collision was his fault because of his negligence and recklessness.”
Clay told Leonard that the fatal collision was the result of “what you were doing and the life you were living.”
Clay said Leonard was involved in the drug world and should have learned to stay away from it because he was a crime victim himself since he’d been shot several times.
Clay said, “Wesley was a good person who was out doing good things for the community. But sometimes bad things happen to good people.”
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