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Teen sentenced for murder

Teen sentenced for murder

Gary resident gets 57 years for death of Lew Wallace student

CROWN POINT -- Theresa Boyd dabbed the tears from her cheek with a wadded Kleenex as her son's killer was sentenced to 57 years in prison.

Donald Ray Burt Jr., 18, of 4529 Pierce St., Gary, was sentenced Thursday by Lake County Criminal Court Judge Richard Maroc for the March 30, 2001, murder of Neal Boyd IV, 16, outside of Lew Wallace High School in Gary.

Burt, who was 17 at the time of the murder, insisted he didn't kill Boyd.

"I admit I was at the school and had a gun," Burt told the courtroom shortly before he was sentenced. "(Despite) what people said at my trial, I didn't know Neal Boyd, I just happened to be (at Lew Wallace) that day. I ain't had no reason to kill Neal Boyd. He ain't never done anything to me."

Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Nicole Spicer said Burt confessed to a girlfriend that he shot and killed Boyd. She said he also confessed to two Gary police officers.

Spicer recommended Burt be sentenced to 60 years in prison.

"School is supposed to be a safe place," Spicer said. "Perhaps if Neal wasn't where he was supposed to be, he would be here today."

Burt's attorney, John Maksimovich, asked Maroc to be lenient in sentencing his client because he was only 17 years old at the time of the crime. He said although his client was found guilty, he believes Burt has learned a lot from the experience and would be unlikely to commit another crime.

The victim's father, Neal Boyd III, smiled as he exited the courtroom.

"(Burt) ain't ever going to be on the streets again," Boyd said. "He took my son's life and took my whole world when he killed him."

Theresa Boyd said justice has been served. She said it's time for her and her husband to move forward and raise their daughter.

Bradley Cole can be reached at bradcole@howpubs.com or (219) 933-3372.

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