Jury finds 'Wooded Rapist' guilty on all counts

Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 5:24pm

Fifteen years after the man referred to as the Wooded Rapist claimed his first alleged victim, he was found guilty of aggravated rape and now faces up to 56 years in prison. And prosecutors say it’s only the beginning.

A jury found Robert Jason Burdick guilty of two counts of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated burglary in Davidson County Criminal Court on Wednesday. Police have said Burdick is the infamous Wooded Rapist, with as many as 13 victims dating back to 1994.

“We’re starting. This is one down and several more to go,” said Roger Moore, assistant District Attorney.

Burdick was found guilty of raping a 61-year-old woman in her Donelson area home in November 2007. DNA evidence linked Burdick to the scene of the crime at a rate of probability that exceeded the entire world’s population, but there was little evidence found otherwise.

Burdick’s defense attorney Fletcher Long vowed to fight on and to begin the appeal process. The even-keel Burdick showed little emotion throughout the trial, including when the unanimous verdict was read.

“It’s certainly a vindication for science,” Long said. “I don’t know if it’s much of a vindication for anything other than DNA. It was a DNA case.”

Prosecutors said Burdick snuck into his victim’s home late at night, bound her hands and raped her. He then ordered the victim to her shower, but she was able to preserve some DNA evidence which ultimately linked him to the crime.

A rape kit test was performed at Metro General Hospital at Meharry the night the crime took place in 2007. DNA gathered through that test was eventually linked to Burdick and he was arrested May 1, 2008. Burdick was charged with two counts of aggravated rape because he penetrated the victim both vaginally and anally, it was revealed during the trial.

“Our victim today just wants to express her appreciation to everyone who has supported her in this,” Moore said, adding that the victim was especially thankful to detectives who worked her case.

Burdick is also suspected of rapes in Williamson and Wilson counties. His sentencing will be June 10 and he will likely go on trial on another charge in October. His first case in Williamson County is scheduled for this summer.

After the verdict was read a dramatic scene unfolded outside the courtroom. Burdick’s father shoved his way past several media members who were waiting outside for comments from attorneys. He grabbed one of the cameras and blamed the media for not giving his son a fair shake.

The Wooded Rapist had been in the news since the late 1990s when several of the alleged attacks took place. Police said the mode of operation for Burdick was to attack on rainy nights in heavily wooded areas.

When police executed a search warrant of Burdick’s Antioch home last year, they found several spools of duct tape, ski masks, night vision goggles and an anti-dog-barking device.