State Supreme Court Upholds Conviction Of ‘Wooded Rapist’

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

In a case of first impression in this state, Chief Justice Gary R. Wade wrote on behalf of a unanimous Court that the State can prosecute an unknown suspect by issuing a “John Doe” warrant that lists the suspect’s unique DNA profile.

In 1994, a Nashville woman was attacked in her home but was able to bite off a piece of skin from the finger of her assailant. A “John Doe” warrant was filed in 2000, which was two years prior to the statutory deadline for prosecuting the offense.

In 2008, the police discovered that a partial fingerprint taken from the skin appeared to match a print provided by Robert Jason Burdick. A cheek swab of Burdick and further testing established a DNA match with that of the skin.

Burdick, also known as the “Wooded Rapist,” was convicted of attempted aggravated rape and sentenced to ten years in prison. He appealed, arguing that the State was too late in prosecuting him because the “John Doe” warrant did not identify him by name and did not put him on notice of the pending charge. The Tennessee Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence, holding that a criminal prosecution is properly and timely commenced if, within the statute of limitations, a warrant is issued identifying the defendant by gender and his or her unique DNA profile.

To read the State of Tennessee v. Robert Jason Burdick opinion authored by Chief Justice Gary R. Wade, visit tncourts.gov .


Supreme Court Upholds Rape Of A Child Conviction

The Tennessee Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a Memphis man for rape of a child, ruling that a prosecution error in the trial did not deprive the defendant of his constitutional right to a unanimous jury verdict.  Courtney Knowles was found guilty of raping the daughter of his half-sister/girlfriend. The victim was less than 13 years old and Knowles lived in the ... (click for more)

Applications Now Being Accepted For 2015-2016 Adult Leadership Walker County Class

The Walker County Chamber of Commerce is accepting applications for the 2015-2016 Adult Leadership Walker County Class. This program is a collaborative effort between Chamber staff, community leaders and chamber members. It provides participants the opportunity to both learn and develop the skills necessary to be a leader in the community. Participants are given an overview of city ... (click for more)

Man Shot On Walker Avenue Friday Night

The Chattanooga Police Department is investigating a shooting that happened at about 10:10 p.m. Friday at 1700 Walker Ave.  Officers were told the victim had been taken to a local hospital.  Mark Parker, 51, stated he was in the 1700 block of Walker Ave. when he was approached by a black male who pulled a firearm and shot him.  Mr. Parker sustained non-life ... (click for more)

July Is Record Month For Court-Ordered Restitution In TennCare Fraud Cases

July brought a record for the state’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) in terms of the amount of money people have been ordered to repay the state for TennCare fraud. In July, people convicted of TennCare fraud were ordered to make $154,000 in restitution to TennCare. In total, TennCare fraud restitutions have led to more than $3 million being repaid to the state.   The ... (click for more)

Chattanooga's Memorial Day - And Response

It is recorded in the Fourth Chapter of the Book of Joshua, that after the nation had crossed the River Jordan, Joshua would receive a divine commandment to choose 12 men from among the people and tell them to take 12 stones from the middle of the river.  Each man placed a stone on their shoulder which represented one of the tribes of Israel, and served as a memorial ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Garden In August 2015

Those in the know tell me the month of August is National Peach Month, so as I take a stroll through garden, I am paying particular attention to the poppy and the gladiolus because they are the “birth flowers" of this month. But as we dole out our months Orchids and Onions, let’s substitute a peach and a pit, that hard seed you find when you bite into a peach. A PEACH to the ... (click for more)