Friendship man ordered to volunteer 74 hours after death of victim, 74

After serving 18 months, Sean Kevin Fitzgibbon must perform one hour of community service every other week at victim's church

September 28, 2010|By Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun

Robert Francis Burdette is remembered for the many kindnesses he showed people during his 74 years, and an Anne Arundel County judge moved Tuesday to ensure that the man who took Burdette's life in a traffic crash remembers that.

Judge William C. Mulford II ordered Sean Kevin Fitzgibbon of Friendship to perform 74 hours of community service at Burdette's church, Clinton United Methodist Church, after he completes 18 months in jail — "one hour every other weekend," during five years of supervised probation.

"Every other weekend you will appear at that church and you will do a good deed on his behalf," Mulford said.

"I can understand why the judge did it. It's a novel approach, certainly; it's a good idea," Kevin Joyce, Fitzgibbon's lawyer, said after his client was sentenced to the maximum 10 years, with all but 18 months suspended, followed by probation.

June Fauber, lay leader at the church, said she thought that if Burdette had survived, he would have appreciated the sentence.

"Bob would have liked to see him turn his life around. And Bob would have helped him," she said.

She said the community service will be presented to the congregation; some churchgoers will be open to having Fitzgibbon there, though "some may not be." Current thinking is that the 28-year-old man, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in July, should do janitorial work, as Burdette did, and speak to church youths.

Burdette was killed doing a good deed: For the past 22 years, each weekday he drove from his Clinton home to the house of Bob Bell, a quadriplegic he knew from church. Burdette helped Bell, who lived in Dunkirk, get ready for work and drove him to his job with the Department of the Treasury.

Fitzgibbon's speeding car rear-ended Burdette's pickup truck about 2:30 a.m. Oct. 7 on rain-slickened southbound Route 4 near Plummer Lane in Lothian, sending the pickup into a tree. Burdette died 25 days later. Fitzgibbon, coming home from a bar, had a blood alcohol level of 0.21 percent, more than double the level required for a drunk-driving conviction.

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