Defense tries to discredit DNA evidence in rape trial

Thursday, March 25, 2010 at 2:29pm

Both sides have rested their cases in the rape trial of Robert Jason Burdick.

The state rested its case against Burdick Thursday morning, and the defense began its questioning of the DNA evidence with its own paid consultant. The defense sought to cast doubt on the DNA evidence that linked 12 out of 13 genetic images, saying it was not conclusive enough to confirm a match.

Earlier, the prosecution’s DNA analyst from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation testified that Burdick’s DNA was lifted from a labia swab performed on the victim, but defense attorney John Herbison questioned some of her qualifications in genetics and statistics.

Herbison also asked Howard if she refused a request from the defense team’s DNA expert to review her report, but Judge Seth Norman disregarded the question as improper.

Later, in the absence of the jury, Norman told Herbison that the request was no way to obtain evidence and angrily reminded him that he’d already ruled on the matter.

“If you had been here, you’d have been aware of that, sir,” Norman said.

The defense moved for acquittal on the charges of especially aggravated kidnapping based on the lack of proof that a gun was used in the attack, and on aggravated rape based on the lack of proof from the victim’s testimony that the suspect had actually penetrated her.

Norman ruled that a victim just thinking that a weapon was being used in the commission of a crime was enough for the especially aggravated charge. Assistant District Attorney Roger Moore argued that when the victim said she had been raped, she used a common term that implied penetration.

Norman later tossed the defense’s motion for acquittal.