In closing arguments this week, the Deputy District Attorney told jurors to treat the evidence against Todd Burpee as they would evidence in a murder trial, where the victim couldn't point to her attacker in the courtroom. In this case, the victim just couldn't face the man who beat her unconscious, kidnapped her and sexually assaulted her.
Directly suggesting a motive for the first time, Leonard beamed onto a projection screen side-by-side a photograph of the victim and an image of a nude young Asian girl found on a computer Burpee allegedly used. The resemblance was clear.Evidence against Burpee included DNA found in his car that matched the victim's, as well as one of her earrings, and several items she described seeing while playing dead in his back seat that matched what police detectives found when they looked inside the car.
"I don't know if he stalked Jane Doe or attacked her at random," said Leonard, referring to the victim. Regardless, he argued, the pornographic images showed he had a sexual interest in underage Asian girls and intended from the start to sexually assault the victim.
As for the attacker's identity, Leonard said, "Jane Doe did not need to point to the defendant, because a mountain of evidence points to him."
That's just the beginning of a long list of evidence that connects Burpee to the victim, and it sure as hell can't all be a coincidence. Still, the defense argued that no physical evidence linked Burpee's DNA to the girl, leaving room for reasonable doubt.
Burpee is charged with one count of attempted murder, two counts of assault with the intent of rape or sexual penetration, two counts of assault likely to cause great bodily injury, one count of kidnapping for the purpose of sexual assault, and one charge of sexual penetration by force. Each comes with a possible enhancement for causing great bodily injury. If convicted on all counts, Burpee could face 48 years to life in prison. More here: Jury starts deliberation in Palo Alto sex assault trial.