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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Dec 18, 2012

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys 1:

John E. Herbison, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert Jason Burdick.

Attorneys 2:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; Mark A. Fulks, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Roger Moore, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): WADE

In 2000, an affidavit of complaint was issued charging “John Doe” with an aggravated rape that had occurred in 1994. The affidavit, which included a detailed DNA profile of “John Doe,” led to the issuance of an arrest warrant. In 2008, police officers discovered that fingerprints taken from the scene of the crime matched those of the defendant. Later, police determined that the DNA profile was that of the defendant, and a superseding indictment was issued in his name. The defendant was tried and convicted of attempted aggravated rape, and the trial court imposed a ten-year sentence. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed, holding that the “John Doe” warrant with the DNA profile was adequate to identify the defendant and commence prosecution within the applicable statute of limitations. Because the issue is one of first impression in this state, this Court granted an application for permission to appeal. We hold that a criminal prosecution is commenced if, within the statute of limitations for a particular offense, a warrant is issued identifying the defendant by gender and his or her unique DNA profile. Furthermore, a superseding indictment in the defendant’s proper name provides the requisite notice of the charge. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.