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Depner allowed to remain free on bond after court appearance

Published: Friday, June 21, 2013 3:04 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, June 21, 2013 11:53 p.m. CDT

WOODSTOCK – A former McHenry man who was convicted in the 1999 death of a woman and her three children in a drunken-driving crash will remain free on bond after a judge quashed a warrant issued for his arrest earlier this week.

McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather on Wednesday issued a no-bond warrant for Walter J. Depner, 61, of Mount Prospect, after he failed to appear in court. Depner was set to be arraigned.

Depner was charged in February, accused of driving under the influence of alcohol and clonazepam, a medication for which prosecutors have said he doesn’t have a prescription. He also was charged with driving on a revoked license.

Defense attorney Mark Facchini on Friday said Depner confused the court date, and when his office called the defendant, he eventually arrived but was an hour and a half late. By the time Depner arrived, the courtroom was locked, Facchini said.

Prather quashed Depner’s warrant over the objections of Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Zalud, who said Depner should have known how critical it is that he appear in court.

“Mr. Depner’s criminal history can be summed up as an absolute menace to society,” he said.

Prather presided over Depner’s first trial, for which he spent more than a decade in prison for the deaths of Eva Burleson, 34, and her three children – Daniel, 13; Tiffany, 11; and Dallis, 7.

Depner posted $6,000 bail to be released from McHenry County Jail shortly after his most recent arrest, but was then taken to the Illinois Department of Corrections custody on a parole hold.

Prather stepped in to hear Depner’s case Friday in Judge Gordon Graham’s absence, but she will not preside over his future court dates. Depner is scheduled to be arraigned July 12.

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