The Gunn High School student who was beaten, kidnapped and sexually assaulted last Oct. 30 appeared in court Wednesday in Palo Alto and described in a sometimes quiet but clear voice what happened to her.
But the slight, young Asian woman could not positively identify Todd David Burpee as the man who assaulted her that afternoon after she rode her bike home from school to her parents' apartment on Arastradero Road.
Burpee, a 2006 Palo Alto High School graduate, was in court for a preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to hold a trial. The hearing was continued until 2:30 p.m. Thursday.
Burbee has been charged with the assault and kidnapping of the woman, 17 at the time.
The woman, identified in court only as Jane Doe, wore a baseball cap and kept her head down, looking at the floor throughout the entire hearing and during most of her testimony -- with one exception. The bill of the cap kept her face out of view.
The one time she looked up was when Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney James Leonard asked her if she saw the man who assaulted her in the courtroom.
"Not really sure," she replied, after a quick look around.
She was accompanied by a court advocate, a woman who kept her arm around her the entire time she was in court, including when she was testifying. Another woman, possibly a relative, consoled her, also with an arm around her, as she waited to testify.
She said she saw a black man standing by a door to her apartment complex when she came home that day. She asked him he wanted to get in, because people sometimes forget their keys, as she said she had done in the past. He replied "Yes," she said.
But after she unlocked the door and started to go in, she turned around walked back outside.
"I was scared," she explained. "The man followed me and attacked me from the back. He covered my mouth with his hand."
She said she struggled. "He put me on the ground and he choked my neck with both hands," she said. She said that the man also twisted her neck.
"I wanted to die because it was so painful," she said.
She lost consciousness briefly from being choked, and when she came to, "He hit my head on the ground several times," she said, referring to a concrete walkway.
She remembers being dragged to a car, being put face down in the back seat and covered with a large cloth before the car drove away.
She remembers the man stopping three times and getting out of the car. She said he was talking on a cell phone almost the entire time.
At one point when he left the car, she got her cell phone out of her backpack and called 911 and started talking to an emergency operator. But she ended the call because the man returned. When her phone rang a short time later, the man found it and took it away.
The third time the car stopped, the man got out of the car, came into the backseat, and pulled down her jeans and underwear, she said. The man then used a finger to sexually assault her, she said.
The man then left the car and went into a house, which turned out to be on North Fair Oaks Avenue in Sunnyvale where his girlfriend lived. The woman said she waited a short time, then got out of the car, running down the street crying for help.
A passing motorist, Fred Burgener of Sunnyvale, stopped and took the young woman to his mother-in-law's nearby house nearby, and called police.
Burpee was arrested two days later at his mother's house in San Jose after an extensive search for witnesses by Palo Alto and Sunnyvale police. Police also recovered the car that they say Burpee was driving and recovered evidence from it.
The arrest was the result of the girl's description of the man to a police sketch artist. A Palo Alto officer, Eric Bulatao, recognized the the sketch as Burpee because he had questioned Burpee about a week earlier when he noticed him sitting in a car in a neighborhood near Arastradero.
After his arrest, Palo Alto police reported that Burpee admitted he had assaulted and kidnapped the young woman. He said he had been angry because of a fight with his girlfriend.
"It could have been anyone; it could have been a guy," police quoted him as saying. "I was just mad." Police reported that Burpee thought the woman was dead when he left her in the car.
Palo Alto Officer April Wagner also testified at today's hearing. She was one of the first officers to talk to the woman after she had been taken to Valley Medical Center in San Jose.
Wagner, who worked as a registered nurse for four years before becoming a police officer, described the girl's injuries, which she photographed as evidence.
The girl had a lip that was lacerated "through and through," an abrasion on her forehead, a lump on her head, abrasions on her nose and chin, broken blood vessels on both sides of her neck, abrasions on both hips, two bruised fingers, abrasions on her knuckles and swelling of both lips.
Wagner said the girl's face was covered in dried blood, as if she had had a nosebleed.
When Wagner and another officer first tried to talk to her, she kept asking for her mother and asking where she was.
Later, when she was able to answer questions, "It was difficult to understand her because she had difficulty in moving her jaw," Wagner said.
Burpee appeared impassive during the testimony, watching but not revealing any emotion. He glanced at several relatives who were in the audience. His girlfriend was called to testify by the prosecution but indicated she would take the Fifth Amendment to not incriminate herself. She was dismissed by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Thang Nguyen Barrett.
• VIDEO: Chief details arrest of assault suspect (Nov. 2, 2007)
• VIDEO: Good Samaritan recalls shocking day (Nov. 2, 2007)