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Exclusive: Man who killed Angela Burke gets 60 months in plea deal

Posted by on July 13th, 2011 at 11:57 am

Caleb Pruitt will return to
custody tomorrow.

The Multnomah County District Attorney is set to formally accept a plea deal between the family of Angela Burke and Caleb Pruitt.

Late at night on December 15th, Pruitt drove his Subaru Impreza at a high rate of speed (according to Police) on SW Barbur Blvd and struck Burke as she walked her bike across the street. Burke, a 26-year old from Albany, New York who had just recently moved to Portland, died in the collision.

In the deal, which is expected to be announced tomorrow, Pruitt will plead guilty to Criminally Negligent Homicide, Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants, and three counts of Recklessly Endangering Another Person (for Burke and the two people that were passengers in his car). He will serve 60 months in prison, which could be reduced to 48 months on good behavior.

Angela Burke
(Photo courtesy Athena Burke)

Pruitt, 28, was charged with Manslaughter, a Measure 11 crime that would have come with a mandatory 75 month sentence (with no eligibility for reduced time).

In exchange for dismissal of the Manslaughter charge, DA Chuck Sparks told BikePortland that Pruitt has agreed to help Burke’s family with their pending civil case by sharing information with their lawyers about where he served alcohol and how much he had to drink. In addition, Pruitt has agreed to pay for six members of Burke’s family to fly from New York to Portland so they can be present at the sentencing hearing on August 26th. Pruitt will pay for airfare, hotel, and rental cars.

“It’s not typical for a defendant to pay for victim’s costs in this situation,” says Sparks.

Pruitt has already written letters of apology to the Burke family.

Once he has served his time in prison, Pruitt must attend drug and alcohol treatment, participate in a victim’s panel, and his license will be revoked for eight years (from the time he is released). He will also pay a $250,000 fine, according to a KOIN-TV report. Pruitt will also get five years of probation, which will begin when he is sentenced in August.

Sparks says Pruitt will be taken into custody tomorrow and will remain in custody until his sentence begins.

While Sparks understands why some members of the Burke family would have liked to see an even stronger punishment, he says Pruitt, “Is taking substantial responsibility for what he did.”

— For more on the Angele Burke fatality, read our archives.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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davemess
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davemess

I think that is a fair sentence. So what was so different about this and the almost fatality on Multnomah Blvd? She got of scott free! I mean understand there was a death versus major injuries, and alcohol was a factor, but amazing how different the sentences are. Was alcohol the main factor? So the moral of the story is you can get away with most things, as long as you’re not drunk?

Schrauf
Guest
Schrauf

Weird plea deal. So he is sharing information he should be required to share anyway, and is paying several thousand dollars to the victim’s family, and for just that he gets a significantly reduced sentence? I understand the benefit of no trial and reduced costs of prosecution, but that deal clearly favors the perp at the expense of safety to society when this guy gets out.

Dave
Guest
Dave

No license for 8 years, better start saving for a bike!

I agree, it is a fair sentence, and the fact that he is paying for travel costs for her family show good faith on his part. Still a very sad story.

Nick V
Guest

At least he seems to be showing remorse. That’s uncommon these days.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

wsbob
Fair? Four years in prison for taking someone’s life. Something like that can never really be fair exchange for the victim, their family and friends. But it’s something.

There is NO fair exchange for someone’s life. There is only retribution (which is of no redeeming social value but feels good) and prevention (of repeat occurrences).

wsbob
This guy should never…ever…drive a motor vehicle again.

Agree.

Makes me long for a good ol` fashion public shaming Scarlet Letter style but updated for the Internet Age.
Jail serves no purpose unless he disobeys his court ordered restrictions against driving.

If he is truly remorseful and matured from this experience then the best place for him to be is OUT OF JAIL being a HIGHLY VISIBLE public example of the consequences of ones poor choices. When we as a society simply lock “bad guys” up we not only allow them to share criminal techniques but also deny the general public the needed daily lesson of visible consequences for illegal acts.

Jeff Bernards
Guest
Jeff Bernards

When I’m at a bar it seems that when you go take a piss, there’s a “Don’t Drink & Drive” message plastered around the bathroom. Can’t people read? When do we stop coddling people. No drivers license for life, so to speak.
At the top of the comments is an ad to rent the “beer bike”, am I getting a mixed message here?

commuter
Guest
commuter

I agree that this person should never be able to hold a drivers license again. It is a minor inconvenience when compared to the lost of a life.

Ted Buehler
Guest

Nice to see justice served. Lots of folks get off scot free when they kill bicyclists. Nice work, prosecution.

Ted Buehler

kww
Guest
kww

This is about a strict a sentence as can be meted out by the judge and DA. I have often criticized the DA’s office for plea bargains when a life was ended as a result. I don’t think I can really complain about this one.

If a stricter sentence is really wanted by the bicycle/pedestrian community, then the laws have to change.

captainkarma
Guest
captainkarma

Instead of taking up space in the prison-industrial profit making system, I’d like to see killers of vulnerable road users paying their own way in a halfway house with an electronic ankle bracelet; the only time allowed to be outside is when they are out sweeping the glass, gravel, & debris from bike lanes and MUPs eight hours a day with “striped pajamas” on.

zappafrank
Guest
zappafrank

If these sort of sentences were handed out in all states, we would be getting somehwre!

Andy
Guest
Andy

Wow, a negligent driver actually got punished in OR. Amazing…

NW Biker
Guest
NW Biker

I think this sounds like he’s taking responsibility for what he did. There’s no real atonement for killing someone, but it sounds as if he’s doing what he can, and what more could we ask? If the article is accurate, he sounds like a person who made a terrible mistake, but is probably otherwise a decent human being. Who among us hasn’t done something just as stupid, but didn’t hurt anyone? I drove blind drunk across the city of Denver more than once when I was a teenager. I could easily have killed someone else or myself, wrecked my car, caused who knows what kind of damage, but I was lucky. Angela Burke wasn’t lucky, and neither was Caleb Pruitt.

He’s going to live the rest of his life knowing that he killed someone just being stupid and drunk behind the wheel of his car. That’s a life sentence.

Stig
Guest
Stig

8 year driving ban after release? If only that could be the mandatory minimum for 1st offense DUI in OR.

mh
Guest
mh

The eight years of licence revocation, if Pruitt has become responsible and refrains from driving without a license, is the best part of this plea deal. It sounds like he has money; otherwise, it would almost be tempting to take up a collection and put him on a bike.

dwainedibbly
Guest
dwainedibbly

This is so much better than those cases where charges aren’t even pressed, or the perp bargains out of jail completely, etc.

Maybe we are starting to get somewhere.

CindySue
Guest
CindySue

I think he’s taking responsibility for his actions and is doing what he can – I’ve know him for a long time, and he’ll never recover from this. We all make mistakes and accidents happen. Unfortunately his mistake resulted in a life being taken way too soon. I think Caleb is doing everything he can to do the right thing, and I hope he and Angela’s family will get some peace after this is over.

One Less :(
Guest
One Less :(

And how in the heck are they going to monitor him? No driving for eight years, sure, but 90% of people without a license or on a suspended license STILL DRIVE DAILY! Dumb plea deal, but hey, I hope the family goes after him and the bar that served him for everything they have in the civil suit. The dude deserves to be punished for more than 48 months and 8 years not being able to drive. I pray that not one day goes by that he forgets that he took a life that didn’t need to be taken.

Stop drinking and driving (or riding) its dumb! So is running stop signs and red lights. What does it save you in the long run, MAYBE a minute or two on a commute. Seems like a lame excuse, just like not getting a taxi after pounding back some beers and then driving or riding home. DUMB!

JRB
Guest
JRB

This seems like a fair resolution to me. At least 48 months in prison is no cakewalk and a felony conviction has serious consequences that will follow him for the rest of his life. He did not intend to kill anyone, but callously and recklessly disregarded the safety of others and as a result a young woman died. There is a moral and legal distinction between intentional conduct and reckless disregard and his sentence reflects that.

I for one am not willing to write off the rest of someone’s life for a non-intentional homicide by a first-time offender. After he’s done his time, he should be given an opportunity to make something of his life. Hopefully for our sakes and his, he makes the most of it.

Scott
Guest
Scott

Reduced sentenced for sharing info on where and how much he was served? Lame. He gets less jail time for ratting on a server who did not put him behind the wheel. I fully disapprove.

AM
Guest
AM

Why is it that everyone puts all the blame to one person without knowing all of the true facts and only listening to what the media has said, which has not been all true. Yes driving after two glasses of wine, not smashed, just barely over the limit is breaking the law, but how many people have done time and time again and many not know they are even over the limit. Yes speeding was also wrong but again how many have broke that law too, I see it everyday on all types of roads day and night. Does anyone blame her for breaking the law by jaywalking across a 4 lane road at 10:45 at night in dark clothes, not in a crosswalk, not in the first lane, but actually in the middle lane walking her bike?

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…Does anyone blame her for breaking the law by jaywalking across a 4 lane road at 10:45 at night in dark clothes, not in a crosswalk, not in the first lane, but actually in the middle lane walking her bike?” AM

Are you saying she was jaywalking? In comments to past bikeportland stories about this incident, people have stated that the nearest crosswalk was a quarter mile from where she was crossing. In other words, there was no crosswalk signal near to where she was crossing Barbur, so she wasn’t jaywalking.

“…but actually in the middle lane walking her bike?” AM

Not clear what you’re trying to say here. Reports are, that she was trying to cross Barbur, not walk with the road in the middle lane.

Check out this excerpt from the following bikeportland story(Malakai was one of Pruitt’s passengers.) http://bikeportland.org/2010/12/20/vigil-brings-light-to-tragic-stretch-of-barbur-blvd-44832

“…”What do you think?!” Pruitt allegedly asked Malakai as they gained speed with each block, “Now it’s not a matter of skill,” Malakai replied, “It’s a matter of luck.” Those were the last words spoken… just before Pruitt’s luck ran out.

According to Malakai, he recalls seeing Burke trying to cross the street. Pruitt, he says, tried to swerve around her, but his speed was simply too fast for either person to avoid the collision. …”

esther c
Guest
esther c

Maybe the length of sentence is all relative. IF we lived in a society where we didn’t believe in locking up such a large percentage of our young male population, 4 years would seem more than adequate. But when we give people life sentences for shop lifting under three strikes laws in some jurisdictions 4 years seems like a slap on the wrist.

Roger Averbeck
Guest
Roger Averbeck

When Caleb gets out of prison, I would be glad to volunteer to assist in teaching him safe cycling skills and accompany him on some rides to understand the challenges of riding between downtown Portland and his home in Lake Oswego.