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Todd Burpee found guilty in 2007 sexual assault

Jury convicts Paly grad of six of seven felony counts

Todd Burpee, 22, was convicted Thursday afternoon of six out of seven felony charges in the brutal Oct. 30, 2007, attack, kidnapping and sexual assault on a 17-year-old Gunn High School girl identified in court only as "Jane Doe."

The at-times horrifying trial, which detailed the sexual assault against the victim and included pornographic images submitted as evidence, began nearly three weeks ago. It included Doe's emotional testimony of being strangled and having her head smashed into the pavement at her south Palo Alto apartment complex.

The case was handed to the jury of six men and six women late Wednesday morning. Jurors convicted Burpee, a Palo Alto High School graduate, of two counts of assault with attempt to commit rape or sexual penetration by force; two counts of assault with force likely to commit great bodily injury; kidnapping with intent to commit rape or sexual penetration; and sexual penetration by force.

Burpee was also convicted of special allegations on each count of infliction of great bodily injury and on the seventh count, of aggravated kidnapping.

The jury did not, however, convict him of attempted murder.

Burpee faces a minimum of 25 years to life in prison.

Two jurors -- a middle-aged white man and a Latino woman in her 20s -- spoke with reporters outside the Santa Clara County Superior Court building after the trial ended.

They said jurors had no doubts that Burpee perpetrated the crime and had agreed by the end of the day Wednesday on the six counts he was convicted of Thursday.

However, they could not agree on the charge of attempted murder, with some members unconvinced beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to kill Doe.

The scene in the courtroom was tense as the verdict was read. The weight of the jurors' decisions clearly hung heavily on their faces. They did not make eye contact with Burpee, who stood facing them, wearing a dark suit.

As the jury's decision on the first charge, that of attempted murder, was read -- "not guilty" -- Burpee's mother, Chekita Griggs, screamed with joy and fled the courtroom to compose herself.

However, as the other charges were read, Burpee's sister, Monet Burpee, sobbed loudly and also fled outside the courtroom, where her cries of anguish could be heard.

Burpee sat motionless after the verdits were read, putting a hand to his face. He covered his brow briefly and lowered his head, as his sister sobbed in the hallway.

After the verdict, a tearful Griggs sat in the plaza outside the Hall of Justice in San Jose.

It was a lonely place for her and her daughter, inhabited only by the sounds of rushing traffic and the mother and daughter's mourning. There were few people there to comfort them, except for Burpee's defense attorney, Daniel Olmos, on his face etched the gravity of the sentence his client could receive.

"My son is not the monster the D.A. portrayed him as," said Griggs, who acknowledged that her son was involved in the assault crimes and has had problems with anger management. But she remained unconvinced of his guilt on the sexual charges, however, saying her son "is not a sexual predator."

"It's the worst nightmare for a parent. My heart of course goes out for the victim as well. But my son is a victim, too," she said sobbing.

"The worst punishment he has is beating up on himself," she said.

Griggs said she wanted people to know that her son had made great strides in his life and was on a good track before something went wrong.

"My son is somebody," she said, expressing the pain of reading media reports that portrayed him only as a criminal and not as a person.

"In the eighth-grade they told me my baby couldn't read. He went on to graduate high school, and he went to college. He wanted to be police officer," she said.

"I do think it was aggravated assault," she said, adding that she viewed the other charges against him as "overcharge and overkill."

"I love my son," she said.

Deputy District Attorney James Leonard, who is a sexual-assault prosecutor, said he still believes that Burpee was guilty of attempted murder and felt there was enough evidence to convict him. Anytime there's a conflicting intent, it's difficult for jurors to resolve, he said.

Overall, however, "I am satisfied the jury did a good job. Obviously, it's not an easy subject matter. They did a fair analysis of the evidence," Leonard said.

Despite the jury's failure to convict on the attempted murder charge, it is the seventh charge -- sexual penetration by force, fear or threats -- that is the most serious, he said.

"In my opinion, it is the most offensive and carries the greatest sentence," he said. A guilty verdict on attempted murder would have added only a few more years to Burpee's sentence, he added.

Leonard said he believed from the start that the case was primarily a sex crime. Four of the charges that Burpee was convicted of were sexual.

"I thought that was his primary motive," Leonard said.

Burpee had been offered a plea deal of 25 years to life early in the case and turned it down, Leonard said. But now, "he'll do more time."

Comments

Posted by FiftyFive, a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 28, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Stay strong Todd, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.


Posted by Susan, a resident of Midtown
on May 28, 2009 at 6:51 pm

My heart is with you, Jane Doe. This scumbag cannot suffer enough for what he did to you. He will have a long period of time to experience justice within the state prison system. His fellow prisoners do not like what he did to you.

Take it one step at a time...you have gone through so much, but there is so much better ahead.


Posted by I am a Victim, a resident of Stanford
on May 28, 2009 at 7:06 pm

I do think it was aggravated assault," she said, adding that she viewed the other charges against him as "overcharge and overkill."



Overkill?

Two counts of assault with attempt to commit rape or sexual penetration by force; two counts of assault with force likely to commit great bodily injury; sexual penetration by force; and kidnapping with intent to commit rape or sexual penetration, with a special allegation that elevated the charge to aggravated kidnapping.

I guess the aggrevated assault was ok. But the other charges, nooo.

Nice lesson to teach the youth. Aggrevated assault...I'm good with that.

He is a victim alright...he can look in the mirror for the next 25 and keep saying that.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 28, 2009 at 8:25 pm

There should only be support for the brave victim here. "He" and "his family" should have apologized and admitted 100%guilt. He deserves all his punishment and the family needs to accept his guilt, don't go blaming others for his guilt.


Posted by servedcold, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 28, 2009 at 8:48 pm

> Stay strong Todd, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language] How can anyone be sure that he could ever be fit to be around people again. Keep him in prison for life.


Posted by servedcold, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 28, 2009 at 8:51 pm

Reading through the article, does anyone doubt that this "monster" would have killed the girl if he knew this was going to happen to him and he would have to go to prison? Sentensing judge, stay strong and do not be softened by thinking this is anything but a monster and needs to be kept away from the rest of society for good.


Posted by TwoSides, a resident of South of Midtown
on May 28, 2009 at 9:27 pm

The girl had more serious injuries than I read in some of these articles. She will have nightmares and scarring the rest of her life. She is an innocent victim of yet another monster taking out his rage and sexual desires on another. I don't feel sorry for Todd at all. He is not a victim of anything other than not getting help to deal with his anger issues if that is something he suffered from. It was well known to everyone at Paly he had SOME KIND of issues. That this happened is tragic but not surprising.

I feel sorry for the mother and sister regardless. They HAVE lost a family member too. Anyone with a struggling or mentally ill family member knows how difficult it is to get these people any help once they are over the age of 18. There are not many options available to family members under the law to get these people help involuntarily.

It's just a sad story all around.


Posted by Outside Observer, a resident of another community
on May 28, 2009 at 9:32 pm

Here's one case where I'm happy my prediction didn't come true. My prediction was that if this came down to Burpee's confession to the PAPD, he would walk. That confession wasn't used, and I have to wonder why.

There is some discrepancy in the DNA evidence, but I'm happy to see that the wise jury saw beyond that and considered all the other evidence, although without the Burpee confession.

None the less, there is an issue with the DNA evidence.

So long as there is one penny to be extracted from this process, there will be a defense attorney groveling to get it.

If there is any money to be had, prepare for the appeal.




Posted by It's Pat, a resident of Midtown
on May 28, 2009 at 10:07 pm

He will get what's coming to him. His face and name has had enough media coverage. His crime of rape of such a young victim. Wont go away so easy. He has been spending his time in Santa Clara's County jail. Now with his conviction he gets to go were the big boys are.
[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


Posted by Outside Observer, a resident of another community
on May 28, 2009 at 10:28 pm

It's Pat,

You echo a common theme. Burpee will get his proper justice, but at the hands of hardened criminals in prison, not as the result of our so-called criminal justice system.


Posted by Sadden, a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 29, 2009 at 7:08 am

This is an awful situation for everyone involved.The victim and Todd. Jail time for a 22 year old kid who grew up with extreme family history of major problems and disfunction needs to be looked at seriously.The use of crack during pregnacy is something that needs to be reviewed this kid needs mental health help not prison.. We want to reform not make one worst.. think about it socitey.>?????? these are young black boys being disgarded not the answer... Compassion, mercy,God forgives each of you daily your better check yourself qucikly while you are judgeing....


Posted by Moira, a resident of Midtown
on May 29, 2009 at 8:43 am

Dear Young Woman: What happened to you is terrible, our community wishes you the best, that you can go on and live a long, happy life. He may have hurt your body, but don't believe that he touched your inner self, you're a brave and strong woman. As for the defendant, I can feel compassion for a life wasted, but you and your family need to acknowledge your terrible acts and apologize sincerely.


Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 29, 2009 at 9:51 am

I am not interested in specifically punishing Todd Burpee. The "Make him pay" attitude smacks of revenge, and as King Arthur said in Camelot, "Revenge is the most worthless of all causes." Those who wish for simple "revenge" are wishing for pain and suffering on another human being with nothing positive gained. It is said that "You become what you hate", and those who would wish for pain and suffering for someone are really not that much better than the criminal they wish it on.

What I wish for is two things:
1) Steps taken to insure that Todd and people like him are disuaded from committing similar crimes in the future, and what is going to happen to Todd will help with that. He will not do this again any time soon, and what happens to him may discourage others from similar acts. I have no problem with that, but I really don't know if I ever want Todd Burpee free in society again, just for the safety of society.
2) Healing for everyone, starting with the victim and her family, but also for Todd's family and even Todd himself. Healing also is needed for the friend of both families who have been affected by these events. There are some terrible wounds here, let the healing begin. But harboring hatred is not healing, there has to be a better way.

I wish that I could just hug Jane Doe and tell her that she is going to be all right. How about a virtual cyber-hug? She is going to need the support, poor girl. Hopefully she will be able to pull something positive out of all this somehow.


Posted by Chris, a resident of College Terrace
on May 29, 2009 at 10:06 am

Sadden wrote:

"Jail time for a 22 year old kid who grew up with extreme family history of major problems and disfunction needs to be looked at seriously." Todd wasn't found guilty because he grew up in a troubled family. He was found guilty because he bludgeoned and tried to satisfy his sick sexual fetish by assaulting an innocent teenage girl.

"The use of crack during pregnacy is something that needs to be reviewed this kid needs mental health help not prison." There is NO PROOF that his mother used crack during pregnancy. Stop raising red herrings.

"Compassion, mercy,God forgives each of you daily your better check yourself qucikly while you are judgeing...." So maybe we should release all criminals right now regardless of what despicable acts they've committed? Give me a break. Todd Burpee is a monster---the prosecutor got it exactly right. And he deserves a lifetime in jail for what he did. If you feel so much compassion for him, Sadden, how about we have Todd Burpee live with you and your family for the rest of his life. See how this sick criminal uses your family to satisfy his violent sexual tendencies and then come tell us how much compassion you have then.

You folks who are so quick to weep tears for Todd Burpee are mighty quick to overlook the real victim, Jane Doe, and what horrors she suffered. You all need to have your heads examined.


Posted by Another view from Greenmeadow, a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 29, 2009 at 10:22 am

"Stay strong Todd, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family."

FiftyFive,

I am sorry for the VICTIM and HER FAMILY first and foremost. That's who my thoughts and prayers are with. I am sorry for Todd's family, but clearly, they are in denial about what their relative is capable of.

The system DOES work.


Posted by Yes, a resident of Los Altos
on May 29, 2009 at 10:42 am

Burpee got what he deserved. We all have problems and issues, most of us choose NOT to act out against others and against the law. Give me a break, he had a choice and is by no means a victim.

My support goes to Jane Doe and her family. Without her brave testimony this MONSTER may have been out on the streets doing this to other people. Thank you for being so strong Jane!


Posted by Clearly, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 29, 2009 at 10:44 am

TO JustME, this is not "revenge", this is justice!


Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 29, 2009 at 10:54 am

"Posted by Yes, a resident of Los Altos, 2 minutes ago

Burpee got what he deserved. "

To quote Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven, "Deserve has got nothing to do with it."

"Posted by Clearly, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, 0 minutes ago

TO JustME, this is not "revenge", this is justice!"

The cry for "justice" is just another way of calling for revenge. That is God's job, not ours. Our job is simply to protect ourselves, our children, and society as a whole and lot let this individual commit more crimes.

I had not heard any claims before of the possibility that Todds mother used crack while carrying him, is there any evidence at all that this is true? If it is so, then I waould have far less sympathy for the mother, a tish more for Todd, but we would still need to protect ourselves from him.

I have my own attitude toward drug manufacturers and distributors, and it also has to do with protecting our children from them. Don't get me started,...


Posted by sadden, a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 29, 2009 at 11:57 am

wow people really do try and JUDGE we will all be accountable at some day and time mental help not prison is what a lot of inmates need..could be your family memeber or friend one day.. Peace grace and blessings to all. one thing i know is that each person on here MESELF included will have to be judged one day and i hope He grants each one of you some mercy and compassion which I dont see alot on here..


Posted by joe, a resident of College Terrace
on May 29, 2009 at 12:10 pm

......"Burpee had been offered a plea deal of 25 years to life early in the case and turned it down, Leonard said. But now, "he'll do more time." ............

It was turned down by who? TB ? or Olmos?. Anyway, it doesn't really matter anymore.
What matter is, the reason why it was turned down. I believe it's because the person who rejected it believes in his very own heart, that the convicted deserves more than that.
Now it's only fair that he deserves more time in jail.


Posted by lj, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 29, 2009 at 1:11 pm

My 21-year old daughter knew Todd in high school. When I told her he had confessed to the crime she said she wasn't surprised from what she knew of him.

This is a tragedy all around. You have to give the guy some credit for confessing, IMHO. That doesn't excuse this horrendous crime by any means, but it does show some accountability on his part.

But that poor girl's life and psyche will be damaged for life from this. I'm appalled that our legal system forces victims to relive the horror of their experience in a room full of people. I can't imagine how terrifying that must be, and how brave you would have to be to undergo that. I was sickened reading the details of this attack. That they make the victim relive the attack, and then to have their stories attacked by defense attorneys...there is something seriously wrong and twisted with our justice system.


My heart goes out to everyone involved, including all the family members. This crime has effectively destroyed two entire familes.


Posted by Joey, a resident of Barron Park
on May 29, 2009 at 2:18 pm

He deserves this sentence and even more. I hope he never makes it alive out of jail.


Posted by ServedCold, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 29, 2009 at 3:47 pm


Wow, my comment got deleted for wondering what it would take for Todd Burpee to realize what he did to this woman? I said that if while he was in jail he got treated like he treated that girl that maybe he might understand what he did to his victim. The Palo Alto online censor deleted that part of my comment and made it look like I agreed with the earlier statement by someone:

> Stay strong Todd, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

I am offended by being censored for being concerned as to why the "monster" is a monster and seemed to have no human morals as well as pointing out that how can we ever know such a person has or could change and saying that he needs to be isolated from the rest of us.

In that I agree with Joey, and others that his sentence is likely to be thought to light by most people.


Posted by Carlos, a resident of Green Acres
on May 29, 2009 at 6:22 pm

I think the possible sentences for someone like this are still somewhat lenient in our society, considering all the suffering his actions have already caused and all the future suffering her victim will go through. In other societies, with a far lower crime rate, a crime of this magnitude would have called for the ultimate punishment.

Without oversimplifying the severity of the punishment as a liberal vs. conservative issue, I think we as a society need to start looking into whether or not we have the right deterrents in place. This time it was this innocent girl, but tomorrow any of us or our families could be victims if we don't ensure we have the right laws. And yes, it's time to stop using society/family/school/etc-related problems as excuses to commit these senseless acts of violence.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on May 29, 2009 at 7:11 pm



could say what you mean by"In other societies, with a far lower crime rate, a crime of this magnitude would have called for the ultimate punishment."

Are you talking N Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran? They have death penalties for this sort of crime I guess.
Are you suggesting that we emulate their legal systems?


Posted by Thanks but no thanks!, a resident of Midtown
on May 29, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Thanks Sharon, for yet another political comment.
Why don't you go back to bashing Obama and let the adults talk amongst ourselves?


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on May 29, 2009 at 9:23 pm


This was a terrible crime and the punishment is according to the guidelines in law.
As I recall some time ago there were calls for involuntary castration of the suspect, now we see calls for Sharia Law.
This is not a matter of politics, it is a matter of the rule of civilized American Law and society.
What does Obama have to do with it?
Get a grip


Posted by Outside Observer, a resident of another community
on May 29, 2009 at 9:50 pm

Unfortunately, our "criminal justice system" has become the former, not the later in that quote.

Time is far overdue that we look at heinous criminals in an economic and best interest approach.

Economically, taxpayers should not have to pay 50K/year to keep Burpee, or anyone in prison.

Best interest for society, indeed humanity, is that heinous criminals do not go on to breed, and I say that from the perspective of both nature and nurture.

So, if we want to keep a large prison population, they should be required to earn their keep. Harvesting our crops on chain gangs would be a good use, and it would be a 2-fer, as it would destroy the liberals last logical argument for illegal immigration.

Or, we could take the Chinese approach, and charge the family for the bullet....

Either way works for me.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on May 29, 2009 at 10:22 pm


If we adopt fascist approaches to crime, "charge the family for the bullet."
Then we are 95% down that road to fascism

American Law has a different view, justice not revenge


I understand this is an emotional issue for many people,

The alternatives to the American Way of Law lead to the acrid smell of human flesh from the chimneys.
Is that what you really want?


Posted by Outside Observer, a resident of another community
on May 29, 2009 at 11:09 pm

Sharon,

You're optimistic. We are already 99.9% down the road to fascism. Dealing with crime logically would be a big step away from that.

Justice IS society's revenge, if not then what is your definition?

"acrid smell of human flesh from the chimneys" Don't worry. Won't ever happen. The EPA wouldn't allow the pollution.


Posted by lorenzo, a resident of Barron Park
on May 29, 2009 at 11:28 pm

By what perverted logic does Burpee's mother try to say he is also a victim???

So he is not a monster? Just ask Jane Doe if she thinks he is....


Exactly what was his mother doing when mothers (and fathers) are supposed to be teaching and demonstrating to their childen that you do not treat women like that NO MATTER WHAT, EVER!!

Lots of people - some in my family - have anger management issues. I have a lot of respect for those who struggle with this and make efforts to improve. And for those who use this as an excuse to commit horrible crimes against totally innocent and vulnerable people, that is why we have prisons.
He made his choice. I hope he never gets out. Let his life rotting in prison be a lesson to others - and to parents who tend not to teach their children to be responsible for their actions.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on May 30, 2009 at 9:36 am


Yesterday in Saudi Arabia


Al-Anzi had previously been convicted of sodomy and owning pornographic films, a crime in conservative Saudi Arabia.

Crucifying the headless body in a public place is a way to set an example, according to the kingdom's strict interpretation of Islam.

Normally those convicted of rape, murder and drug trafficking in Saudi Arabia are just beheaded.

London-based rights group Amnesty International criticized al-Anzi's execution and crucifixion.

"It is horrific that beheading and crucifixions still happen," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui of Amnesty International in a statement Friday.
"King Abdullah should show true leadership and commute all death sentences if Saudi Arabia is to have any role to play as a global leader or member of the G20," said Sahraoui.

According to an Associated Press count, Friday's execution brought the number to 35 beheading this year in the kingdom.
In 2008, 102 people were beheaded.


Posted by Norm, a resident of another community
on May 30, 2009 at 10:58 am

the state is broke due to the misuse of services as a result of millions of illegal aliens. Close the borders and our budget pronblem goes away. But, you never here a politician mention this. Instead they discuss, "services cuts". Give me a break, try to go to a county hospital, local public school, library, DMV or other government service center and tell me what you find. Thanks Obama for funding infrastructure projects, the companies will use your money to employ yet more illegals. Time to take the state back!


Posted by lunchlady, a resident of Esther Clark Park
on May 30, 2009 at 3:23 pm

I'm glad this guy is going to prison, but Jane Doe is still traumatized. She and her mother are still very very shellshocked and not doing well at all. I don't know if there is anything more anyone can do for them now, but at least they know Todd is in jail and the trial is over.

The mother of the convict still loves her child, as I guess she should, but why do we need to hear that she doesn't believe he is capable of rape? Does any mother believe her son is capable of rape or murder or other horrible crimes?
I feel sorry for his mother but I have no sympathy for her denying any of his guilt at this point. Monet Burpee still goes to Gunn and has to deal with being Todd's sister- that can't be easy either.


Posted by Badabing, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 31, 2009 at 4:19 pm

I have no objections to locking up violent, sexual predators for life, so here's hoping for 50 years for Todd. Whatever his past might have been, he shouldn't be out an about.

I'd be all for "reforming" the Todds of the world ... if we only knew how to do that. One day we might be able to read and change their brain circuitry, and if corrected, then I'm all for letting the formerly violent go free. Until then, lock the violent up for life.

What I don't like right now is filling our prisons with non-violent drug offenders. That's what ought to be legalized and/or medicalized.


Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
on Jun 3, 2009 at 12:03 am

My thoughts are completely with the victim of this vicious crime. With time, may her horrendous memories fade and her physical and mental wounds heal.


Posted by lee, a resident of another community
on Jun 8, 2009 at 6:34 am

He got what he deserved. His mom is upset but not thinking about the girl. The victim got a life sentence. His ex-girlfriend has picked up the pieces and moved on. She did nothing wrong and hope she will find happiness. Todd's mom needs to face reality at least for the next 25 yrs!


Posted by smdh , a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 8, 2013 at 2:24 am

He's gotten what he deserves. Pretty sure he's getting his Ass waxed in prison. His mother needs help. She thinks her children are saints. All of them are messed up in the head. child molesters, rapist, women beaters, supposly so into God. hmm smdh There family needs major prayer!


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