Lonta Burress, Jr. Pleads Guilty To Voluntary Manslaughter In Death Of Darius Townsend

Thursday, October 17, 2013 - by Hollie Webb

Nineteen-year-old Lonta Burress, Jr. pleaded guilty Thursday morning to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Darius Townsend. 

Though Burress and Defense Attorney Bill Speek still maintain his innocence, if he had gone to trial, he could have possibly been convicted of first-degree murder and faced life in prison. With the plea agreement, he has been sentenced to five years and is eligible for parole in 18 months. Voluntary manslaughter carries a minimum sentence of three years.

The victim and the defendant were both 17 at the time of the shooting. Burress was out on bond at the time, as he and another young man, Darius Gustus, had been charged months earlier in a school bus stop shooting. Burress was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault for the bus stop incident even thought Gustus was the only one to fire a weapon. Also, witnesses to this incident were unreliable at best. One did not show up to trial and later said she had memory problems. Another witness even changed his story.

Judge Don Poole asked Burress several questions to make sure that he knew what he was agreeing to, including questions about his education. Burress stated that he had only been in school until the ninth grade. He has been in custody for the past two years.

His family waited quietly for Attorney Speek outside the courtroom after the sentence was read. Mr. Speek said that they were “happy with the outcome,” and that “(Burress) is ready to get this portion of his life behind him.

“Lonta has always said he was innocent. He has the opportunity now to get out and lead a very productive life.”


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: AUSTIN, RYAN BISHOP 128 GOODSON AVENUE RED BANK, 37405 32 Hamilton County DRIVING ON REVOKED LICENSE BAKER, SARAH CAITLYN 1423 CYPRESS STREET COURT CHATTANOOGA, 37402 37 Hamilton County Booked for Previous Charges or Other Reason(s) BAUGH, CODY 5220 CREEKS BEND LN HIXSON, 37343 ... (click for more)

Michael Basham Sought In Bradley County Burglaries

Michael Basham is being sought in Bradley County for several burglaries.  On Feb. 23, several residents in the area of Keith Valley Road in south Bradley County reported their vehicles were burglarized with items stolen. Bradley County Sheriff’s Office’s Criminal Investigations Division received information that Michael Basham was the suspect in these auto burglaries. ... (click for more)

Tennessee Deserves Better Health Reform

Tennessee needs health care reform. Expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," was not the best solution for Tennesseans. That is why the vast majority of Tennessee legislators never publicly supported the plan defeated in a special legislative session in February.   It is important to distinguish health care from health insurance. As one physician ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Cameras Or Subterfuge?

State Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) is an easy-to-like member of the Tennessee Legislature and the fact he is teaming with state senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) to rid the state of its loathsome traffic cameras is indeed a wonderful thing. The legislative action is long overdue, with the biggest winners being the out-of-state camera companies. That alone is just about all you ... (click for more)

Tre Tiller's 22 Leads Central To Region 3-AA Basketball Championship

There just must be something about playing basketball at Chattanooga State that makes the Central Purple Pounders click. Especially when the opponent is the Brainerd Panthers. Facing Brainerd for the fifth time this season and second at Chattanooga State on Monday night, the Purple Pounders defeated the Panthers for the third time. The latest conquest may have ... (click for more)

Greater Chattanooga HOF: Chairman John Farr To Step Down Class of 2015 Induction Dinner is Tonight At Convention Center

For chairman Dr. John Farr, tonight’s annual Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame dinner is the close of his decade of strong leadership.   A hall of fame board member since 1993, Dr.Farr plans to continue to hold a seat on the board, but has decided to step down as chair.   “I have enjoyed my 10 years as chairman, but I think it is time to let someone else ... (click for more)