James Burke: From beat cop to Suffolk's top cop

James Burke, left, and Dennis Sullivan in their

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James Burke, left, and Dennis Sullivan in their patrol vehicle, circa 1988. James Burke became a Suffolk Police officer in 1986, at age 21. But his association with the force began when Burke was a 14-year-old witness in the murder case of John Pius Jr., a Smithtown teen whom classmates suffocated with rocks in 1979. (Credit: Handout)

In 1979, James Burke became a teenage witness in one of Long Island's most notorious murder cases: the suffocation of 13-year-old John Pius in Smithtown.

The experience helped focus him on a career in law enforcement. Burke, then 14, testified in a series of trials that he heard admissions from classmates charged with shoving rocks down Pius' throat to keep him from talking about a stolen...

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