Two days after a 17-year-old Palo Alto girl was kidnapped and assaulted, someone used a laptop at the Sunnyvale apartment that suspect Todd Burpee shared with his fiancee and her mother to search the Web for the California Penal Code sections on assault and kidnapping, a computer forensics analyst testified Friday.
Mario Soto, a criminalist for Santa Clara County, said the user also appeared to have searched Google for media coverage of the attack, using terms such as "kidnapping," "Palo Alto Daily" and "sexual asslat" (sic).
The searches were performed on the same day Burpee was arrested for the alleged crimes: Nov. 1, 2007.
Soto's expert testimony, which also touched on pornographic pictures that had been downloaded onto a second computer, capped the first week of Burpee's trial in Santa Clara County Superior Court on charges of attempted murder, battery, kidnapping and sexual assault. It added to a growing body of circumstantial evidence against the defendant, who the unnamed victim has never positively identified.
Soto was challenged extensively by defense attorney Daniel Olmos on the details of his qualifications, methods and conclusions. The biggest dispute of the day, however, centered on the prosecution's references to pornographic files found on a desktop computer that was also seized from the Sunnyvale apartment as evidence.
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By: Will Oremus