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Burr Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison

BY MELANIE BUCK –

Alicia Burr will spend the next ten years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) following a string of probation violations. The honorable Judge Jerry Ryan handed down the sentence on Monday in Polk County Circuit Court after listening to testimony from several witnesses in the probation revocation hearing. The term was set for 20 years in ADC, with 10 years being suspended.

The sentencing follows a case where Burr was previously convicted in Polk County Circuit Court when she pled “no contest” to Arson {5-38-301}, a Class A Felony, three counts of Aggravated Assault {5-13-204}, a Class D Felony, and Criminal Mischief in the First Degree {5-38-203a1}, a Class D Felony, in June 2014. The original case stemmed from a “suspicious” house fire in 2012 at a home on Westmoreland Drive off Hwy 375S that was owned by Michael White, where Telina Dedmond and her family resided.

Burr was sentenced by then Polk County Circuit Court Judge J.W. Looney in August 2014 to ten years probation with more than twenty conditions. Any violation to the conditions of probation could cause any part of the full sentence to be imposed. One of the felonies Burr was charged with carries a 30-year sentence. Looney also ordered full restitution to be paid to the victims.

In addition to probation and restitution, Burr was also required to surrender herself to the Polk County Jail every other weekend for a period 8 months following sentencing, which was increased during one of her probation violations to include an additional 120 days.

However, after repeatedly violating the conditions of her probation, Burr was brought back to court several times. Probation Officer Frank Gibson was the first to testify at the hearing. Gibson said Burr violated at least seven of her conditions, some of them multiple times.

Condition 2 required that Burr lead a law-abiding life; however she was arrested in February 2015 for disorderly conduct in Sevier County. Condition 3 requires that she report as directed to her probation officer. Gibson testified that on several occasions, Burr either missed her appointments with him, counselors, and appointments to take substance abuse tests. Undergoing medical, psychiatric, and substance abuse exams was a term of condition 12. Burr was said to have been dismissed from group counseling sessions for non-compliance and failure to report. As part of condition 13, Burr was not allowed to have relationships with other convicted felons. However, around March 2015, she began dating a convicted felon, J.J. Johnson, before receiving permission from Gibson. Burr and Johnson did gain permission to date and marry in July 2015, but later divorced in October 2015. Twice, Burr tested positive for drugs, which violated condition 16; to refrain from the use or possession of drugs. She also tested positive for alcohol on several occasions, violating condition 21.

Officer Gibson stated during his testimony, “Probation is a sentence by the court to help get their life together and to set right their wrongs and to not take that seriously is a slap in the face to the court.”

Burr testified on her own behalf and said that many violations were results of an alleged volatile relationship with Johnson, her now ex-husband. When asked why she remained in the relationship, Burr said that Johnson was the only support she had. “I had meltdown relationship issues. There were so many things going on. I was trying to move but I can’t get a job until I move and I can’t move until I get a job. It’s too much. I don’t have a support system,” testified Burr.

As part of her defense, Burr and her mother, Loretta Cogburn, argued that both of Burr’s ex-husbands were allegedly trying to set her up to fail drug tests. Burr’s defense attorney, Bob Keeter, asked the court to postponed the hearing to allow time to subpoena alleged text messages between both ex-husbands that Keeter said would prove conspiracy. The motion was denied by the court, citing, even if that were true, there were enough other conditions violated that it wouldn’t lessen punishment.

Also while on the stand, Burr said, “I wish I had gotten here a lot sooner because I promised this court that I would. Until you get to that ‘aha’ moment, you just don’t understand, and I didn’t get to that ‘aha’ moment until I was already in trouble. I’m ashamed.”

During sentencing, Judge Ryan said, “I have heard a lot of excuses but not reasons. It’s inexcusable. I think you’re more concerned about you than anybody.”

Burr was immediately remanded into custody and will await an opening in the Arkansas Department of Corrections.

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