Independence man accused in deadly hit-and-run that killed a veteran skips trial

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Authorities issued a warrant for Nicholas Burks' arrest after he failed to appear for trial this week. He was charged with leaving the scene of a crash in 2014 that claimed the life of a 67-year-old man.

Harry McBee was carrying groceries from Independence`s Apple Market to the motel where he stayed on 24 Highway when witnesses say he was struck by an SUV. People recognized the man spotted standing over the U.S. Air Force veteran as the same person court documents show would later admit to hitting him on Facebook.

"I actually have a lot of friends here that were witnesses on the scene so it was pretty easy to track down Nicholas Burks," McBee's granddaughter, Breanna Bennett, said.

"They were trying to help him as Nicholas Burks was saying it was just some old homeless guy, who really cares? It was like he didn`t matter," McBee's son, Billy Thomas, said.

McBee was taken to the hospital where he died weeks later from what the coroner called complications of blunt force trauma.

Nearly a year after the April 2014 crash, and after police had removed what they said appeared to be McBee`s clothing from the bumper, Burks was charged with leaving the scene of an accident with injuries.

Finally this week, Burks' trial was scheduled. Family received word he was ready to take a plea deal that would keep him out of jail. Instead he'd serve four years probation. They waited for over an hour, but Burks never showed.

"We were just looking forward to getting the closure he was going to take acknowledgment of guilt explain what happened and then he didn`t show up to court," Bennett said.

McBee`s son said he`d forgiven Burks for allegedly running the first time, but not again.

"It`s one thing to commit a crime, but when you step forward and you admit guilt to someone for that crime and you refuse to accept punishment, that`s what really gets me," Thomas said.

If Burks is captured or turns himself in, he's ordered to be held on a $10,000 cash-only bond.

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