Tomorrow, on April 24, 20178, in a nondescript courtroom in Springfield Ohio, a young man will discover his fate. It isn’t a high profile case, and there will likely be no press coverage. Perhaps there should be, though. Richard Burks may lose the next 4 ½ years of his life, and the question really is how much of that is his fault.
Richard Burks shares a name with his father, Richard Eugene Burks, III. Richard E Burks, III was tried and convicted of kidnapping and gross sexual imposition of a minor in 2011. He was given a 10 year sentence. The judge in that case was Judge Richard O’Neill. Fast forward to 2017, when Judge O’Neill also signed off on the Bill of Information, or plea bargain, tendered to Richard Eugene Burks, IV. The judge made no secret of his feelings in the courtroom, according to Stephanie Stephens, the mother Of Richard Burks, IV. She became concerned that the judge was allowing the conviction of Richard Burks, III to cloud his judgment about Richard Burks, IV.
To understand how confusing this is, you have to go back even further, to the time when Richard Burks, IV was a minor child himself, and visiting his father in California. It was then that the specter of abuse first reared its head. Ms. Stephens received a phone call from her ex-husband. Events leading up to that phone call were never clear, but the result was that their son Richard had suffered a loss of consciousness. After approximately 20 minutes, his father called his mother, scared. He was scared to call 911 for help, in case he was arrested. The very next day, Richard Burks, IV was on his way home to Ohio.
He never told specifically what happened that summer, or for how long it had been going on. But that visit with his father left its mark on him. Physical abuse was now documented, and emotional abuse was suspected,as well, but Richard would never confirm or deny. As he grew up, he became involved in drugs and petty crime, and suffered from anger issues. This caused him to grow angry with his mother when she would go to court, to probation officers, to any official that would listen, and ask for counseling and addiction services for her troubled son. She was never able to get any help. Rehabilitation was not going to happen in Springfield.
All of this culminated in the charges filed in October of 2017. Originally charged with felonious assault/weapon, discharge of firearms, domestic violence, and receiving stolen property, with bail set at $25,000. He eventually agreed to the plea that gave him 180 days in a boot camp program for discharge of firearms and receiving stolen property. Six months isn’t a terrible price to pay but it still wasn’t going to address the underlying issues. Unfortunately, Richard Burks isn’t the only one with demons to battle. Another offender in the program had his own demons, and this ultimately resulted in a fight between the two. Both were removed from the program, and tomorrow Richard Burks finds out if he will have to serve the entire sentence.
Richard Burks has been punished more than once. Clearly, punishment is not a deterrent for him. Can Clark County step up to the plate and get him the help he so clearly needs? Will they? Or is punishment for the sake of punishment the best they have to offer? Are they punishing him, even now, for the sins of his father? Tomorrow, we watch and see how Clark County responds. Richard Burks will not be the only one being judged tomorrow.