Wednesday, July 29, 2009

2 charges dismissed in 'Wooded Rapist' case

By Mitchell Kline • THE TENNESSEAN • July 29, 2009 FRANKLIN — Two charges against Robert Jason Burdick, the man accused of raping four women in Williamson County, have been dismissed. Burdick, whom police have called the "Wooded Rapist," still faces five counts of aggravated rape, four counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, one count of rape and one count of aggravated kidnapping in Williamson County. Tuesday afternoon, Circuit Court Judge James G. Martin III dismissed two counts of aggravated burglary, saying the statute of limitations on those charges had expired. Both offenses, which were connected to alleged rapes by Burdick, allegedly occurred in 1999. The statute of limitations on aggravated burglary, a class-C felony, expires after four years. Assistant District Attorney Kate Yeager argued that the statute didn't apply because Burdick concealed the offenses and prosecutors didn't know who committed the burglaries until DNA evidence linked him to the crime scene. Martin also ruled that Burdick could face three separate trials in Williamson County, because he is alleged to have committed rapes on three days between March 1999 and November 2004. District Attorney Kim Helper asked that Fletcher Long, one of Burdick's three defense attorneys, be disqualified because of a conflict of interest. Helper said Long knew one of Burdick's alleged victims through a family member and had helped the woman start a business. Defense attorney John E. Herbison said there was no conflict. Martin denied Helper's motion but ruled Burdick must sign an affidavit acknowledging Long's relationship with his alleged victim and that he desires Long's representation.

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