After a long day of testimony Wednesday, Robert Jason Burdick’s defense team said they felt confident about their case in his rape trial. Thursday morning could tell a different story.
A jury of nine women and five men (including alternate jurors) heard testimony from the rape victim as well as 13 other witnesses, including the victim’s mother, none of whom testified of any evidence found at the scene linking Burdick to the rape. Prosecutors are expected to call DNA experts to the stand Thursday morning and to rest its case later that day.
Burdick, 40, is on trial for the rape of a then-29-year-old woman while her mother and three young children were in a nearby room. He faces charges of especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape in the case.
Defense attorney Carrie Gasaway told reporters Wednesday that it was a good day for the defense, adding that without DNA evidence there’s nothing linking Burdick to that house on Tusculum Road on Feb. 18, 2000.
Most of the witnesses the prosecution called to testify were Metro police investigators including Detective Jeff Wiser, who testified last, recounting for jurors how he collected a DNA swab from Burdick’s mouth in May of 2008, shortly after police suspected Burdick was the “Wooded Rapist.”
Systematically, as the defense team cross-examined each police witness, it asked the same question: “Do you know of anything taken from the house that linked Burdick to the crime?”
Each time, same answer: no.
Testimony revealed that the victim received a hang-up phone call around 10 p.m., hours before the rape, and her attacker had cut the phone lines before prying open the back door.
The attacker encountered the mother first, causing her to scream and wake the victim, who after seeing the intruder restraining her mother, locked herself in her bedroom and tried to call 9-1-1 but the line was dead.
She opened her bedroom door because her mother said the man had a gun, and the suspect then also restrained her hands with black plastic ties and covered her eyes with duct tape. Both women testified that the attacker smelled of gasoline or oil, like someone who worked on cars.
After both women were made to lie facedown on the floor, the victim testified that she heard footsteps in the hall from one of her three children (ages 6, 5 and 3 at the time).
The man then moved the victim’s mother to another room with the children saying, “Come on, grandma” and telling her to calm the children.
When he returned to the victim he picked her up off the floor, removed her shirt and her underwear and moved her to the bed.
“He said this would be the best f--- I ever had,” the victim testified.
He then raped her for what she said was a “few minutes at the most.” When he was done, he led her to the bathroom, started the shower and made her get in.
The last words said to the victim were “I know your ex-husband.” She was going through a divorce at the time.
Click here for more stories on the Wooded Rapist's previous charges and convictions.