Letter from Josh Burns to Judge Cavanaugh

To the Honorable Miriam Cavanaugh,


On January 27, 2015 a jury convicted me of 2nd degree child abuse. As I have testified previously, on March 15, 2014 I was watching my daughter Naomi when my wife was at a hair appointment. While I was burping Naomi my phone rang and I answered the call. While hanging up the phone Naomi slipped off my knee and I caught her by her face as she was falling towards a coffee table. I testified truthfully and to the best of my ability during direct and cross-examination in two trials. As to the event that occurred that day, I do not know what I can say beyond what the court has already heard me say under oath.

What I can say is that I love my daughter Naomi and my wife Brenda with all of my heart. I would lay down my life for them.   I do take responsibility for the fact that Naomi fell off my knee because of my actions. I do not blame anyone but myself for that. My daughter was in my care and she fell. I have to live with that and the fact that I stand convicted of a felony for my actions for the rest of my life. This breaks my heart everyday and it is a burden that is difficult to bear. It is even more difficult when I think about the effect that this situation has had and will have in the future for my wife and daughter.

I hope you understand that I did not intend to harm my daughter in any way. This was an accident. I accept full responsibility for this and I will humbly serve out my sentence and try to become a better man from this experience. I am a God-fearing man. I believe that God is in control and I will not allow bitterness or anger to take hold in my heart.

I obviously do not agree with the jury verdict or the charges that were laid against me but I cannot live in the past. I now must pick up the pieces and hold my head up and trust in God. I have been blessed to have my wife and family standing by me throughout this experience; which has been the most horrific thing I have ever been through. I am very fortunate to have hundreds of friends who have committed to stand by me and my family. They have all committed to help Brenda and Naomi while I am incarcerated. They have committed to help me in any way they can while I am incarcerated and after I am released. My airline that I have been a pilot for has also come along side my family and me. The pilot’s union is working to try to keep my job waiting for me when I am released, but the outcome of their efforts is uncertain.

I am confident that, even if I am unable to continue working as a pilot, I will be able to establish myself in another career. I expect to continue to be a hard working, productive member of society upon my release. Regardless of decisions made in this case and in the termination proceedings, I am committed to embrace my duty to support Naomi and Brenda. I consider this my duty, but even more, I consider it an honor to provide for my wife and daughter.

Due to the bond order in this matter, I am unable to have any contact with my daughter. If I were able, and if she were old enough to understand, I would tell her that I will always be her daddy. I would tell her that I am so sorry that I cannot be there for her. I would tell her that I am so sorry that I let her down. I would tell her that I know she is a strong fighter from the days that I watched her fight in the hospital. I would tell her that I am proud of her. I would tell Naomi that I will always love her and provide for her every need no matter what happens.

I have also expressed my deep regrets and sincerest apology to my wife, Brenda. I want the court to know that I am truly sorry for the way that my actions have affected her life, and will continue to do so. My wife remains on the Michigan Central Registry even though she has been completely exonerated and is not a respondent. This makes it nearly impossible for Brenda to obtain a job and practice as a registered nurse. I was the sole provider of income and health insurance for Brenda and Naomi. They will now be dependent on the government, family, and friends for the support I am unable to provide while incarcerated. I am truly sorry that Brenda will have to endure this humiliation. She has always been a strong, productive, hard working member of society. She does not deserve the harsh treatment she is now enduring because of this terrible situation.

I also want the court to know that I intend to be a model citizen in complying with this Court’s orders regarding sentencing. Even during the intensity of litigation in two pending cases, I worked hard to comply with this Court’s orders. This will not change.

When I look back on all that my family has lost over the course of one year’s time it is overwhelming. Much has been lost. Naomi has not seen her daddy in nearly a year. She has been unable to share the many milestones in her life with me. She experienced her first Christmas and her first birthday without me. When I think about this my heart is broken. I understand that if I had not allowed her to fall, this story would be very different. This alone has been a severe punishment and one that I would not wish any parent to experience. But I know that God can restore all things. All of this loss would melt away if I had the opportunity to be with Naomi and Brenda as a family again. I am hoping to somehow make this up to my family.

Sometimes we have to lose it all for God to show us what really matters in life. Family matters and being a husband and a father matter. If I have that chance I know that I will forever have a heart of gratitude and will be able to laugh while people sweat the small stuff in life. I often tell my wife “I promise that I will never complain again about the boring mundane grind of life.” After this experience I know what really counts in life. I have learned so much from this situation and I am sure there is yet more for me to learn. I pray that God will give me the chance to be with Brenda and Naomi again. Nothing else in my life matters to me. I would go through hell and back for my family. I love Brenda and Naomi more than anything this world could ever offer. I will do anything this Court asks of me. I will serve any sentence you see fit. On behalf of my family I humbly ask this Court for mercy.


Joshua Burns