Sentencing delayed for Warsaw man accused of reckless homicide

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(Photo supplied/Wabash County Sheriff's Department)

by Michael Anderson, Times-Union

A man who pleaded guilty to reckless homicide in connection with a crash that killed Warsaw architect Mary Ellen Rudisel-Jordan said he feels unworthy to ask forgiveness from anyone other than God.

Carl Burt’s attorney, Alan Zimmerman, read the statement as he asked Wabash Circuit Court Judge Robert McCallen for leniency in the sentence.

A sentencing hearing for Burt, 64, Warsaw, was held Monday.

McCallen delayed pronouncing his sentence because he wanted to review evidence submitted by Burt’s attorneys. McCallen said he will issue a decision at 1 p.m. May 1.

“I say prayer for Mary-Ellen and a prayer for myself every night,” Zimmerman read from Burt’s statement. “I ask God for forgiveness, but I don’t feel worthy to ask it of anyone else.”
The fatal crash occurred July 18, 2013, just over the Kosciusko/Wabash County line.

Police say Burt was driving erratically in the opposite lane and collided with Rudisel–Jordan’s vehicle. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Burt said he doesn’t remember the accident but doesn’t think the witnesses are lying.

During Burt’s testimony, he expressed regret at what happened.

“I am so tragically sorry for what I put the friends and family of Jordan through,” he said.
Zimmerman said when Burt watched a video of the accident, it was a major turning point for his client.

“That’s when all talk of trying this case stopped,” Zimmerman said.

Burt tested positive for three narcotic drugs, according to court records.

Burt testified during the sentencing that the three drugs he tested positive for were a result of his prescription, valium, metabolizing in his system.

As part of Burt’s plea agreement, a charge of driving while intoxicated was dropped.

Wabash Deputy Prosecutor Alfred Plummer said Burt should have known better.
Plummer pointed to Burt’s two past convictions for driving while under the influence of alcohol. Plummer specifically pointed to a 2010 Kosciusko County conviction in which the same three drugs were found in Burt’s system.

“He knew in 2010 that the drugs made him intoxicated and he drove again,” Plummer said. “He killed another human being.”

Since the accident happened in 2013, Burt will be sentenced under old state sentencing guidelines, meaning Burt will have a minimum of two years in prison.

Plummer asked McCallen to give Burt the maximum of eight years.

Zimmerman expressed concern about how his client may adjust to life in prison.

“Due to neurotic deficiencies, he would be vulnerable to predatory attacks by other inmates,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said Burt understands that he must serve some time in prison,  but asked McCallen to recommend placement in the medical unit at the Plainfield Correctional Facility.

Even though the medical unit has less programs, resulting in less time-served credits, the medical unit is the best place to keep his client safe, he said.

Zimmerman asked the judge to sentence Burt to six years in prison with four years suspended.

Plummer said Burt’s medical problems are his own doing.

“He did this to himself,” he said. “He killed another human being, then comes in to court and talks about traumatic brain injury. These problems were caused by his own actions.”

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