MORE: Landmark Life Sentence Handed Down in Rutherford County for Aggravated Rape of a Child

Dec 14, 2023 at 05:45 pm by WGNS News

Above: Brian Jeffrey Burke, Jr., 26




RUTHERFORD COUNTY, TN - In a historic verdict, 26-year-old Brian Jeffrey Burke, Jr. of Murfreesboro, TN has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the aggravated rape of a child. This court proceeding marks one of the first instances of the tougher penalty imposed under an amended Tennessee State law.

The verdict in the Burke case was reached swiftly by a Rutherford County jury, taking only 15 minutes after the conclusion of the three-day trial. Shortly after the verdict was reached, Rutherford County Circuit Court Judge James A. Turner mandated the life sentence on Wednesday, December 13, 2023, underscoring the gravity of Burke, Jr.'s crime. Again, he committed aggravated rape of a then five-year-old boy in August of 2021.

Burke has been incarcerated since his arrest just six days after the heinous crime occurred. The scheduled four-day Jury Trial concluded this week one day early on the third day. Murfreesboro Police Detective Michael Yates remarked, "Today marks a historic day in Rutherford County Tennessee," commending the jurors for their swift decision. Burke was subsequently returned to the Rutherford County Adult Detention Center after appearing in court, but will eventually be transferred to the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

The new legislation that equaled a life sentence for Burke fully eliminates the need for a sentencing hearing after such a conviction. In Burke's case, the guilty verdict for the aggravated rape of a child left Judge Turner with only one sentencing option: life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. As mentioned, this landmark case highlights one of the state's first few cases for this type of sentencing to occur under the new legislation that was passed by Tennessee's 113th General Assembly. After the new legislation passed, it went into effect this past July. 

While Burke's case has reached a conclusion, the broader conversation surrounding child sexual abuse crimes continues. Many argue for longer prison sentences in all child sex abuse crimes, pointing to the lasting mental aftermath of such attacks.

According to a large number of psychologist, the aftermath of such crimes against children can follow a child into adulthood and throughout life, affecting the psychological and physical well-being of that victim. Crimes of this nature impact relationships, faith, education, and careers for years to come. Child sex abuse causes a damaging impact on the ability to form and maintain healthy, close relationships. Children who are victims and survivors of child sex abuse routinely face difficulties in trust and intimacy. Advocates argue that longer sentences are necessary to address the profound and lasting consequences of child sexual abuse.


Sections: News